I spent the morning of my dad's "Celebration of Life" service rummaging through the belongings of another dead person. This seems appropriate to me, I apologize if it seems disrespectful to you. But when one of my favorite souls on the planet texts with the message "estate sale! c'mon" I could not say no. John is also the brilliant writer behind GRIEF CLUB the fiction podcast we have been working on, and thus there is no one better suited to sift through dead people's stuff with and then go out for kick-ass bbq!
The truth is, my father died years ago when he chose another family and another life to live - one where I was not welcome or a part of that family. A true turnaround from the entirety of my existence up until then, when as a young child through early adulthood, my father reiterated how I was "....special, because I had been chosen (read: adopted)". Guess the lesson there is if your chosen once, special or not, you can be not chosen another time, especially if you clash with the new shiny family on deck.
Missing my dad's service was hard. I believe everything happens for a reason and the fact that his service was planned for a Friday rather than a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday (when I could have attended) is something providential that sometime in the future I'll understand. Today, I don't. So, I spent time looking through another dead man's life. The photos, the clothing, the sheer amount of stuff - it overwhelmed me and I am not easily overwhelmed.
Estate sales are in my blood. As a child, Saturday mornings while other children slept late and watched cartoons while eating sugary cereal, I was in the backseat of my mom's beat-up Datsun being shuttled from one garage sale to another yard sale to the holy grail of an estate sale! The fascination with how people live, what they buy and keep, value and treasure - all only to end up being stamped with a sticky circle of color that names the price - intrigues me still.
However, I don't want to live my life in such a way that there is a house-full of stuff for strangers to buy after I die. I want to live my life engaging with as many strangers in the present moment that the treasure is that moment, not a weird porcelain figurine, book or other oddity from the past.
So, in honor of my dad who missed the grown-up me, and thus missed some of the best of me, I am going to the theatre tonight, I'll put on make-up and costumes and tell someone else's story on a stage with people only pretending to be my family. I will choose to deeply engage with the moment, the now, not the past and not the future. I'll find a way to celebrate my dad's life as I have always found a way to celebrate my own.