I love your name; it makes me smile. I can imagine your father so proud at your birth and knowing that you would not only be a boon to his life but to the world as well.
In the past several months, I’ve thought a lot about you, Kazner, Julie and her kids. You’ve all lost a very special part of your life experience. I wish I could bring him back to you, or kick the Grim Reaper in the butt. None of us get out of this life alive, but it’s difficult to rationalize losing your dad while you are still trying to figure out the transition to adulthood.
Things were very different when your father and I were in high school. Every Thursday night we saw Bill Cosby as the idealized father figure. I don’t believe any of us thought of him as being black, or anatomically correct, but your generation will not be able to experience the comedy without the baggage of accusations and racial posturing.
The first time I saw a clip of you dancing, I thought about a Neutron Dance that your father performed with Anthony Randall and Roger Hoylman. Lloyd Gubler pretended to accompany them on the keyboard. The darkened their skins with shoe polish and lip-synched to the Pointer Sisters. It was fabulous. Today there would be talk of suspension for being less than reverent about racial differences. Then it was no harm, no foul. It was just goofy kids having fun.
Your adolescent world is both larger and smaller than ours. You’ve been exposed to media images of atrocities across the globe, but you are able to pull into yourself and block out the world with earbuds. We shared music via huge boom boxes. It was the fabric of our community – sharing what we still believe to be some of the best songs in history.
Personal electronics have reunited many of us from that small rural community. Connecting with your father on Facebook was life-affirming for many of us. His positive, fun-loving posts were the perfect juxtaposition of the rants others feel obligated to share.
You are surrounded by people who want nothing for you but success and happiness. We know, however, that you’ve already experienced a huge loss and character is built in the dark moments when you don’t feel like a champion.
People have already begun to compare you to your dad. Please know that you are a great mixture of both of your parents, but you are unique and wonderful in your own right. Also, keep in mind that your grief journey is personal. No two people experience loss the same way. It’s common for people to say that they know how you feel. They have an idea about how you feel, but only you can experience what is going on in your mind and heart.
I’m assuming your parents have given you astute advice about the life process, but I’m going to offer you some reflections to hopefully save you from learning things the hard way. That said, the best lessons are learned the hard way.
- None of the above is always an option.
- Always have one trusted confidant.
- Guard your heart, but let people into your world.
- Kindness costs nothing.
- People who need the most empathy are the ones hardest for which to feel empathy.
- Silence is not consent.
- Change is difficult, but it prevents stagnation.
You, Kazner, Julie and her kids are held in many people’s thoughts and prayers. Some days will be tougher than others, but you are never alone. Without knowing it, your father built you a safety net community. He is still always on your side, and so are those of us who are part of his tribe.
Be well, Valeree Lane