Body in a Box

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

As soon as I stepped into the sanctuary I knew you were there. My eyes scanned the mostly empty room and came to rest on the blue box in front of the stage. Though I was standing in the back of the room, I could tell you were in that box. Or so I thought. With each measured step forward, I recognized the figure before me less and less until I was certain it wasn’t you. The moment I laid eyes on that mannequin posing as my father, I knew you weren’t there.

You were in my memories playfully throwing jabs and asking if I wanted to fight. You were speaking with me in whispers about family and life. You were reminding me that my purpose was bigger than I knew. I experienced you in a lot of ways, but none of them involved that blue-chrome, man-sized box that we put into the ground.

Has it already been a year since the funeral? A year since I got that call? A year since my life ended and began within the same breath? This year has brought peaks and valleys the likes of which I’ve never seen.

Words don’t capture the full depth and weight of all I’ve felt since you transitioned. I’ve shed tears, expelled guttural screams, and faced endings I wasn’t expecting only to find that I’m still standing. I’m more balanced and rooted than I was before. The storms I thought might overwhelm me, have served to level my foundations and strengthen my roots. Preparing me for the journey forward.

Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash

While in one breath I’m greatful, in another I wonder if it was worth it. What If I don’t want to miss you? What if I want to see you hold my child? What if I’m tired of feeling that golf-ball sized lump in my throat that reminds me you are gone? Does that have to be the trade-off for my growth? Was there no other way?

I ask but I know the answer, or rather, I know there is no answer. Whether or not things could have gone differently is irrelevant. This is the path I’m on, and this is the year I’ve had.

Within the last twelve months, my spirituality was broken open by a mystical experience. You suddenly passed away. My marriage was deconstructed and regrown. I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I left my church and graduated from seminary. I launched a blog, started a podcast and joined a racial equity consulting organization. I landed a wonderful job, deepened existing relationships, and started new friendships. And to top it all off, I became a father for the first time.

It is no coincidence that your death and my spiritual awakening were just weeks apart or that it was those two events which preceeded everything else. In fact, its actually quite fitting. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you planned it that way.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my pops! It captures his spirit.

Though the pain and grief of your transition are still very real, so too is our connection. I no longer tangibly feel you, but in a deeper sense, I feel more connected to you now than I ever have before.

I sense you in the quiet moments. Your cool, reassuring presence reminds me that I’m not alone. Your strength reverbrates throughout my chest with a rich, steadying warmth that soothes me and slowly brings a smile to my face. It’s these subtle moments of connection for which I’m eternally grateful.

Though we put a body in a box and a box in the ground nearly one year ago, we didn’t bury you. You’re here even now, connected, loving, and gently reminding me of my purpose. Thank you pops. I love you and miss you.

Your “Mighty Man of God“,

Ben

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