After Your Father’s Passing: A To-Do List For Myself


1. Go for a run. 

Go for a long run.  But don’t let your feet stomp against the ground.  Don’t subject your knees to the hurricane of emotions.  Stay focused.  Keep your breath.  One foot in front of the other.  Turn left, turn right, eventually loop back to where you started.

2. Make use of the heavy bag. 

Make a lot of use of the heavy bag.  But be intelligent.  Don’t lose form.  Don’t let emotions dictate how you throw your punch.  Even the best fighters lose when they fight out of emotions.  If you let what’s going on in your mind bleed into your practice, your knuckles will bleed onto the bag and nothing good will be accomplished.

3. Wake up when you wake up. 

Be it with the alarm or at 2 AM.  Don’t fight it.  Get out of bed.  Wrap a blanket around you if you have to.  If you’re up before the sunrise, watch it.  If you’re up long before the sunrise, stargaze.  Brew yourself some coffee.  Go on a midnight drive if waking up would’ve entailed falling asleep in the first place.

4. Take advantage of the can-do moments, the moments when you find yourself going, “Enough of this shit,” and you clean up the house, sort through the mail, and get errands done. 

Go at it without any guilt, without feeling like you should hold back.  It won’t last long.

5. Turn up the music. 

Sing.  Dance.  Get lost in the song and be nothing but sound waves and vibrations.  Get lost in lyrics that hold too much meaning.  Get lost in melodies that only seem to get heavier with each listen.  Get wonderfully, beautifully, tragically lost.  Repeat.

6. Contradict yourself. 

Vacillate wildly.  Sit with what you’re feeling and watch it shift & morph on you.  Don’t try to sort it out, at least not yet.  Things won’t be making sense for a while.

7. Embrace the pity party from time to time. 

The same way you can’t hold back the tears, sometimes you just have to throw the biggest pity party in your honor.  Wallow.  Sulk.  Put up the gigantic, “Woe is Me” banner.
Be sad.  Be fucking sad.  Be so fucking sad that you wonder if your heart, your actual, blood-pumping heart, can actually survive the strain.
Then let the pity party end.  Clean up the confetti.  Take down the banner.  Get on with life.

8. Laugh. 

For the love of God, laugh.  Find humor where there is humor.  Make humor where there isn’t.  Because life is far too short and far too tragic not to. Put on a good comedian.  Play that stupid Vine video on repeat.  Laugh so hysterically that it almost sounds like crying.  Blur the line between the two.
Laugh. Laugh loudly. Laugh maniacally.  Laughter means there’s hope for you yet. Laughter means you’ve got a chance of getting out of this in one piece.

9. Don’t concern yourself with wondering when things will return back to normal.

To be blunt: they never will.  But it’s not just for this.  For everything.
“Normal” is a fluid concept.  A new “normal” is made every single day, at every moment, in little and big ways. We are essentially nothing more than a set of before and after shots of our experiences.  Each experience will shape our lives. Some for the better. Some for the worse.  But no matter what, life is irrevocably altered after it.

10.  Above all, never forget how much love there is in your life.  

Even with everyone’s support, sometimes things get a little too heavy for their own good and it can become really, really easy to feel isolated and alone.  Sometimes the “Woe is Me” banner stays stuck on the wall and you realize that you’ve only invited yourself to this pity party.
So you’re fatherless in yours 20s. Of all the things you’d thought you’d be doing at 29, you didn’t foresee this. Not even after factoring in his history of poor health.  Not even after his Parkinson’s diagnosis.  But there are four distinct groups in your life that you unabashedly refer to as family: one by blood, one by law, and two by way of kindred spirits.  There is love and beauty and joy in your life and — yes — it won’t make the pain disappear. But we don’t crave love as an antidote for pain.  You out of anyone knows that it is usually the cause of it more than anything else.  We crave love because it is the very definition of life.  Because without, it is a life not worth living, no matter how long or short it is.
“Si nada nos salva de la muerte, al menos que el amor nos salve de la vida,” — if nothing saves us from death, may love at least save us from life.  One of your favorite quotes, second only to, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
In fact, long after the dust settles and you emerge with sooted clothes and a persistent cough, keep doing #10.  As part of every check list, every to-do list.  With each new normal, with each passing day.  Start with #10 and work your way up.