In a practice with a new client today, he told me of his father’s cancer diagnosis. I asked him to do some writing on how he was feeling about what was happening with his dad. As he connected me to his writing, he mentioned that he imagined what he was going to say standing up in front of people after his father has passed. This resonated deeply with me.
My father’s cancer diagnosis came eight years ago when he was eighty. When our parents grow to that age, we start understanding that time together is limited. When they call us and tell us they have cancer, these thoughts become harder to push away. Like my client, I started to imagine what I would say in front of family and friends at my father’s funeral. Then it hit me. The one person who I wanted to hear this eulogy more than anyone else was my dad.
It took me more time than I would like to admit, but eventually I did sit and write my dad’s eulogy. I wrote and wrote, far longer than I imagined I would when I first engendered the idea. Eventually, I knew I had said what I wanted him to know. It started with the simple phrase, “I am my father’s son.” I meant it both literally and metaphorically. Few things I have ever done have made me feel better about myself as a son than the gift of writing to my father about my love and how much he has meant to me. It was a gift that was received with as much love as it was sent. Eight years later, my dad is still with us. Since sharing these thoughts with him, I am content in the fact that my father knows how much I will miss him.
I connected my client to my story. His productive action is writing about what he wants his dad to know.
My client and I are both lucky: our stories came with a warning of the mortality of our parents. Some of us aren’t as fortunate. Who are the important people in your world? Have you connected them to what they mean to you? Maybe it’s time to do some writing.