The following is an excerpt from my personal journal, written at the time of my father's death in 2013.
In loving memory of Danny Lee McBride.
June 25, 2013
Dad died this morning. My heart is broken, but at the same time, I'm relieved. I know in my heart he's in a better place.
Before I went to sleep last night, I imagined myself at his bedside and told him all the things I wanted to say. I told him I was there, that I loved him, that everything was going to be okay. He didn't need to worry about me and his wife. We're tough old birds and we'll make it through this. We'll miss him, but we'll be okay. I told him I'd never forget all he'd done for me and I'd always remember the good times. I thanked him for always being there and again, told him how much I loved him.
I have to believe he heard me somehow, our souls as connected as they are. He must have known it was okay to go, and maybe he left because he didn't want me to see him leave.
Tonight, on the way to the airport, there was an enormous and vividly bright rainbow. Next to it was another, more faded.
I choose to believe that this was a sign meant for me: my dad letting me know he's here, that he's okay, he's at peace, he's not alone.
I choose to believe this was a promise to me, to watch over me, to be my protector, my guide, my light.
Are these the memories I'll carry with me when I remember this day? A call from my sister to tell me she's mourning and wants to have a memorial for dad, here in Seattle, just the two of us? Or the incredible outpouring of love from people who knew him? People remembering him as a great man, a funny man, a man who loved his family deeply?
My life is forever changed. There exists a whole in my heart so big, I can't imagine it ever being filled.
Daddy, I love you, I miss you, and nothing will ever change that.
July 14, 2013
Nearly three weeks have passed since my last entry on the day my father died. It seemed there was nothing I could write that would heal this whole in my heart. Nothing seemed important enough to write down. My grief has taken over.
I look for signs all around that he's here, watching out for me, wrapping me in his love and grace, smiling down on me from heaven with that beautiful smile and those hazel eyes. All healed, happy, and full of love.
The hardest part was waking up the morning after he died. Getting off the red eye in Detroit, the sun rising outside the window, knowing he wasn't there waiting for me.
As I sat at there, waiting for my connecting flight, the sun was shining through the window so brightly, casting a warm glow on my face. I want so much to believe this was his presence washing over me. Warm and loving.
One evening, as I sat on the back deck at my mom's house, fill with hurt and sadness, feeling tired and exhausted, I saw a flashing green light in the pool. I crept down in the darkness and there, stranded in the water, was a lightning bug.
I scooped him up and he crawled along my fingers and palms for a long time, flashing brightly in the night. Then, he crawled to my fingertip and gently flew away.
My dad. A light in the dark, a beacon of hope that there is more to life after death, and we will be reunited one day. Forever, fireflies will remind me of him.
Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can't sustain the part.
Fireflies in the Garden
by Robert Frost