Each year on my father’s birthday, I create an an art piece to represent the age he would have been. This art piece below is called “Would-Have-Been 67.” I don’t know how long I will continue this tradition, but it still feels right and I still find it healing.
A book that has been instrumental in my healing process after the loss of my dad is Thich Nhat Hanh’s No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life.
Tonight I am particularly drawn to his section called “Taking New Forms,” in which he expresses the Zen Buddhist concept of “‘Something’ cannot become ‘nothing,’ and ‘nothing’ cannot become “something.'” Hanh writes:
“Science can help us understand this, because matter cannot be destroyed — it can become energy. And energy can become matter, but it cannot be destroyed. In the same way, our beloved was not destroyed; [he] has just taken on another form. That form maybe a cloud, a child or the breeze. We can see our loved one in everything.”
On this “would-have-been” birthday tribute to my father, I feel my father is like a bird in a tree, ever present, accessible, and able to see a far and wide perspective. He would have told me not to worry over the small things. He would have told me that I am okay. He would have told me to believe in myself. He would have said in his clear way, like a bird’s clear caw or coo, “You can do anything,” and I would have believed him.
Happy Birthday, Dad.