By Darrien Minnie
(Caution some choice words involved..sorry not sorry)
Just breathe Darrien, just breathe. Something so simple and something that we do without thinking, yet in tough moments I have to tell myself to stop and breathe. For there is not a lot I can control.
I woke up this morning 8 20 am, almost to the minute that one month ago I received a call from my father’s home care nurse 8 17 am telling me that my dad has passed away. My dad battled small cell lung cancer which spread around his body. Likely attacking his brain. My father was so strong through it all. When he was in treatment I was a new mama. He was in Vancouver and I was in Prince George. I made him a hand knotted mala myself. 108 strong healing beads, a guru bead, handmade tassel and a charm carefully chosen by me. I gifted it to him on his birthday in 2018. In June, when he has a procedure done that was painful he grabbed for my mala and hung onto it for strength and support. I would walk my dad through gentle guided medications and lend him my books of breathing techniques. Now these gifts are in my company. It feels like I just gave them to him, how are they back to me again? Leading me to my next question…
Where the fuck did the month of January go? From the moment I got the news and the Christmas madness and planning a Celebration of Life in Vanderhoof and Funeral in Vancouver I haven’t had a break. I am just starting to come down for the chaos of it all. My grief journey is something that is uncomfortable for me. Classic Darrien, I distract myself with work. And then in the evening when it is all too still and I try and go to sleep that is when my brain (thank you brain) decides to paint this picture of my dad vividly in my mind. Sometimes there are tears that fall and sometimes the tears get gently blown away with my inhale and exhale. Grief is not convenient, grief is not tidy or always isolated to the home. It sure as hell isn’t 3 days off work for bereavement (though I am grateful my husband was offered it!) I am learning about this new sidekick “Grief” I know that when I drive around and a song comes on the radio that I will likely cry. I know that when I meet for coffee dates and play dates my makeup is striked and my face shows my grief is close by me today. I know that trying to leave my grief outside it will just bang on the doors louder. So I invite it in, I am trying to navigate through it, but I need help. I ask the Universe and I ask my guides and my dad for help.
Remember the Universe has your back….
I walked on Commercial Drive in Vancouver and I went into the shop that I usually like to window shop, as it always have the cutest outfits and I remember my dad taking me there one day as a teenager. I walked into the shop looked around some of the dresses. They were beautiful but I was not in the mood to try anything on so I looked at the jewellery and all the jewellery stands were these beautiful bracelets they were just simple and dainty and they had words on them. I looked through the stand the words were “Open Your Mind”, “ I Love My Life” , “Soccer Mom” , “Believe” and then my eyes settled on “Breathe”. Breathe, It is automatic, and we don’t really thank our bodies for breathing for us. Thank you for breathing for me, thank you for breathing for me.
The store clerk was chatty with me she opened up a conversation started more or less like “what do you have plans for today” and I said “oh I’m flying out back home” and then she asked “what brought you to Vancouver?” I pause for a moment because yes, I agree, nobody really wants to hear “Well my dad passed away and so I have to go to his funeral and we buried him two days ago” but we don’t talk about these things and they get suppressed and then things get awkward and I also I didn’t want to just burst into tears and have her thinking like or what did you say that could’ve made me sad. So, I told her. I told her “Unfortunately, I had to attend my father’s funeral this weekend” and she said “oh my gosh I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to pry” I replied no no it’s fine it’s good for me to talk about it. Then she opens up to me and says that her she lost her father two years ago and I asked her how are you healing and she says “I have a little altar for my dad and whenever I’m really thinking about him I will light a candle” and I see such beauty in these types of ceremonies I see such beauty in these rituals. I thought it was so beautiful that the only store employee to talk to me as I walked about 4 blocks would have walked a similar path. A stranger that I was able to connect with and to learn from.
As I walked out I focused on my breath inhaling and exhaling through the past few weeks I’ve received so many beautiful messages and people coming up to me saying that my guided meditation on my father‘s celebration of life was so beautiful and they resonated with it so closely. I chose not to repeat the meditation in the Vancouver funeral and so many people said I wish you would’ve done that. I wish I would’ve too. We can find so much power in our breath. Our breath, my breath the same breath that helped me through, ultrasounds, tests, procedures, blood work, daily injections, even my labour! My breathe can help me get through some hard things. Connecting with my breath connecting with that force, so as I walk down the streets I continued with my breath I showed Shawn my new bracelet he thought it was beautiful. I focus on my on my dad and how even when I need him his mala necklace I put the charm called “breathe” matching the bracelet.
My thoughts shifted to my reflection of my goals for 2019 and my theme for this year. My friends and I all chatted about our theme word. I heard words of balance, grounding and abundance. I choked a word “survive… well a working title. Then, it hit me in the face, 2019 my word is breathe.
Thank you dad I am thinking of you.
Lastly I invite you all for a small guided meditation any time you wish to be close to your passed loved one.
Sit tall in your seat, feet planted on the ground. Close you eyes. As you breathe in sit a little taller. Exhale the breathe allow your shoulders and tension to melt. Think of a memory of your loved one. Visualize their smile. Visualize them healthy and whole. Allow your spirits to be lifted. Imagine a beautiful ball of light in your heart. Settle on it’s glow and it’s colour. Inhale allowing yourself to draw the breath deep into the belly. Exhale Slowly. Allow this ball of love and light in your loved one’s memory to fill your heart and on the exhale allowing this love and light to diffuse throughout the body. Continue this breathe for as long as you like. This is where your loved one is. They are here supporting you. Always. Always, they are here with our breaths and in our hearts.
Thank you Namaste