Feeling Complete

By: Louise Morganti Kaelin

Every now and again (if we're lucky, it's only every now
and again), life forces us to become aware of its cyclical
nature: the ocean's relentless ebb and flow, the budding
of spring, the desolation of winter. We are confronted by
inescapable facts, facts that in the hustle and bustle of
every day life we are usually able to ignore. The fact that
life goes on, but it also slows down, and ultimately, comes
to an end.

Life has thrown one of these cold hard facts my way. My dad,
as I tell people, 'isn't doing well'. He's doing as
well as can be expected 'under the circumstances'. The
circumstances seem to be that all of his organs are slowing
down and refusing to work the way they were intended to
work. He's not in pain but he's not really himself
either. He's not the loving vital man I remember, the man
whose faults sometimes outweighed his virtues, but whose
love and strength and gentleness are the legacy he will
leave. He wasn't a talker, but he was a feeler. And I'm
incredibly grateful for all the years we've had together,
and God willing, for more times together in the future.

But, those times won't be the same. That much I've come to
accept, although I've spent the last 6 months to a year,
pretending that it wasn't so. But pretending didn't
change the cold hard facts. Because we are separated
geographically (about an 8 hours drive worth) I don't get
to see my parents as often as I'd like. And that certainly
helped me maintain the illusion. I didn't want to believe
it, so it wasn't so!

Last weekend, my husband and I did a quick trip down to
visit my parents and see my dad in the hospital. Before I
left, I was speaking to a friend, who was talking about her
relationship with her elderly parents. At some point in the
conversation, she talked about being 'complete' with her
parents and asked me if I was 'complete' with my dad.



That definitely started me thinking. To be 'complete'
means to have no unfinished business with someone or some
thing. I am grateful to her for asking me that question,
because otherwise I'm not sure I would have thought about
it until it was too late. The more I thought about it,
though, the more I realized that I did feel complete. That
there was nothing left unfinished or unsaid. And as I sat
by his bedside, I was sure. My heart is filled with
sadness, but it is the natural sadness of the passage of
time and our inability to stop the process of aging.

This wasn't always the case, however. I believe I was 27 or
28 the first time I ever remembered my dad saying 'I love
you' to me. And because he never said it, it wasn't
something I found easy to say to him (although it was very
easy with my mother). I can still see myself sitting on the
couch in the back room of my old apartment. We had finished
a conversation and I said 'I love you'. It was a little
scary, and I know I had to work myself up to it. And I
remember having prepared myself for silence. But there
wasn't silence. He said 'I love you too', then 'bye'
and hung up. In fact, although he said it, he said it as
though he was surprised it needed to be said. I told you he
wasn't a talker!

I sat in stunned silence for a long time. It seemed - and
was - such a momentous occasion. I was sure I'd never
forget it - and I haven't. Even though it became a regular
occurrence, I've never forgotten the magic of that first
time. In many ways, I even feel lucky that it took so long.
It never became rote or meaningless. I was always aware of
the special-ness of that exchange.

But if my dad had gotten to where he is now before we had
that opportunity, would I have felt so complete then? I am
positive that I would not. My need to hear him say it (I
always knew in my head that he loved me, but I still needed
to hear the words!) was pretty strong. The thought of never
hearing him say it or of my being able to say it to him
freely and without hesitation brings a different kind of
sadness, a different kind of loss.

So, luckily for me, my dad's doing a whole lot better in
the last few days and I still have lots of time to enjoy
this exchange with him. But what about you? If you got a
call today that said your father, mother, husband, wife,
son, daughter, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandfather,
grandmother, mother-in-law, father-in-law was gone, what
would you regret not saying? Same holds true for you. We
often think we have plenty of time to 'clean things up'.
The truth is, we usually don't so don't delay. Get on the
phone and say it now.

Sometimes what we need to say is harder than 'I love you'.
If you feel what you need to say is too painful and you
don't think you can actually say it to them, then write a
letter to them that you never plan to send. The important
thing is to release the energy, and it is much simpler to do
this while they are still alive. You will notice a
difference in your interactions and you will feel
'complete'.

If that person is already gone, then definitely write the
letter. Pour out all your feelings, love, anger, sadnessFree Web Content,
whatever comes up. It will be helpful if you burn the
letter after you are done. Create a 'releasing' ritual of
your own.

'Completeness' is a gift you give yourself and your loved
ones. I hope you'll give it soon.

Motivation
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