Storms Of Life
A Fathers Story of Loss
I sit in the sand of a beach on Lake Huron watching the waves lap the shore. In the distance there are dark clouds on the horizon; boats skirt the gale and ply the cold deep waters of this great freshwater sea. The rhythms of the waves are mesmerizing and take me away. Occasionally one of the waves is much larger than the rest and crashes into the shore with a sudden rage, snapping me out of my reverie. As it ebbs, the waves resume their siren song and I again slip into their hypnotic trance.
I am taken to another place and time by the sound of the surf and I am touched with melancholy. The storm on the horizon mirrors the tumult I feel within my soul. Like the waters I watch, my emotions rise and fall. An occasional rouge wave arises unforeseen within me, threatening to drown me in sorrow. My youngest child no longer walks the beaches of life with me. He was caught up in a great storm created by angry men. They bound him with heavy anchor chains of hatred and drowned him in their seething sea of taunts and violence. The maelstrom not only swept away my son but also threatened to submerse me within the depths of grief and anguish. I have weathered many storms on the sea of life but this was one I was not sure I could survive! I have been in what seems like an endless emotional hurricane; constantly bailing my little boat to stay afloat amid the emotional waves that verged on swamping me. I shook my fist at the heavens and cursed the storm, but the weather did not abate.
I drifted amid the waves, losing sight of the shore. A captain is supposed to go down with his ship and yet here I am, still alive while my boy was swept away by the riptides spawned in the storm. I felt then like I failed in my role as a father. A father‘s role is to protect and defend his family, but I had that right taken away from me when I was most needed. I now know that I could no more control the events of that day than I could control of the waves that tossed me about. In my despair I let go of the tiller and drifted aimlessly. I felt that if I ran aground against the rocky reefs it really did not matter. The charts I had drawn to navigate my way through life were suddenly useless and obsolete. The falling rain mixed with my tears smudging the map, its lines blurring into an abstract pattern that hid my destination. I was lost.
As the tempest tossed me about I cried out and demanded justice. The evil that caused the storm should bow down at my feet and plead for my forgiveness! These feelings of selfishness did nothing to quell the seas. My anger sent bolts of lightning back to the clouds serving only to strengthen their fury. My efforts to control the elements proved futile. How can a just man fight such a violent storm? My spirit was drenched in the sorrow of the emotional typhoon and I resigned myself to sleep.
I awoke slowly from my dreamless slumber to the sound of a raucous gull perched above my head on the gunwales of the dinghy. It cocked its head and looked at me, curious as to whether or not I was dead. I knew that I must be near land so I sat up, startling the white bird. As it flew away I saw that the clouds were beginning to part revealing the beacon of a bright light on the shore. It gave me hope and led me to safety past the reefs and shoals which threatened to batter my soul.
Another wave breaks on the shore of the lake in front of me and I snap out of my daydream. I am again sitting on the beach but the storm that I had fought so hard is now long past. My peace came only after I released the anger within me. Forgiveness is not a demand I can make of those who caused the tragedy but rather it is something that I needed to give to them.
The loss of Christopher still touches me with sadness, but I now realize he was my light and he led me to safety from the storm. My son is always with me. His voice whispers in the sea breezes and surf saying “I am fine. I am with you. Be happy”. I see him in every sunrise and sunset and know that he is well.
I rise from the sand, turning my back to the dark clouds disappearing beyond the horizon and walk from the shore to celebrate Father’s Day
By Gary Drypen