So, today is the 28th birthday of my beloved daughter, Morgan.
And without this article, very few people may remember. Certainly her mother, Martha and her significant other. Me. My significant other. (I really don’t like that term. We must think of another one more succinct and fitting). Her brother, my incredible son, Hanford and his wife. We remember. And then …
Without a reminder, there may be very few.
And now for the difficult part… the realization that that is how life is meant to be. And yet, for a parent, when a child dies, their birthdays and their transition days are dates that are seared into our hearts. For us parents, our child going before us will always be a personal tragedy. We never get over it.
But, there is another reality that is also very real. As parents of children who transition before us, we must find a way to acknowledge that harsh reality. Life and death are absolute realities of our existence. The world moves on. Society moves on. Glorious life moves on. As parents who are living through the gut wrenching tragedy that our child was taken before us, that is the harsh reality we must face. And face it we do in different ways in accordance with our own individual strengths and weaknesses.
And for this one man, this one daddy, I would not want it any other way. For it surely must be, will be, and has been that way since time immemorial. (Or until that mad genius who lives down the street succeeds in devising AI capable of performing all job tasks and work for humankind allowing us a life of leisure. [Or to be eradicated by the Frankenstein of our minds]) The talks we have had and will continue to have on sentient beings, ethics, the soul and Skynet becoming self-aware have been epic. But, I digress.
Morgan being taken scarred me on a deep level. And yet, it also filled me with incredible drive and inspiration, substance and strength, hope and resolve. I have had to endure the greatest fear a parent could possibly face. And yet here I stand, “Stoikiy Muzhik.” Through tragedy, my soul connected with me … and its path was revealed. In realizing that, instead of being mastered by that pain and anguish, I certainly must acknowledge the presence of that pain, but I also must acknowledge to a much greater degree hope for others, and inspiration that Morgan brought and brings to others.
Like so many parents who have had their child taken, I wanted her death to not be meaningless. I wanted an industry to stand up and take notice. By God, I would have people rise up and understand and embrace her legacy in a grand and mighty way and then go out and do great and mighty deeds! In Morgan’s name, we were going to save so many others. She would be remembered.
But, that is not the way of things. That is not the true path to salvation and remembrance. Great and mighty deeds? No. Instead, it is the small things. Salvation and soulfulness are found in the small things. The very small things.
We remember Morgan’s friend who gave her first child, her daughter, Morgan’s name as her middle name. Her friends, her sisters in treatment whom she inspired and helped, today may briefly remember her smile. Or the way she laughed. The way she pushed them to rise up and conquer. It will be those precious few who shake their heads remembering when Morgan did or said something incredibly … “out there,” or let’s face it, stupid. It will be those few who remember how good they felt when they were in Morgan’s presence. And yes, it will be those who swore they would not succumb as Morgan did. They will remember that it took Morgan falling so they could lift their own life. It is within those gentle souls who find the strength within themselves to heal that we find our successes, our joys, our true love in life.
And so, for those who remember, or who choose to remember, I ask them to do what I choose to do today, what I surely must do not just today but every day … remember her laughter, her smile, her love, how she inspired and yes… it’s ok to recall her many flaws and weaknesses. Like her father, she did have flaws and weaknesses. Sometimes in abundance!
For parents who have children, call them today. Talk to them, tell them you love them. Laugh about a great, shared memory. And allow yourself to feel love and hope for a much greater future that is surely before you.
Today, on Morgan’s birthday, I choose to laugh, to live, to love, to embrace a better tomorrow. For in doing so, if I can give even one person hope, a chance at a better tomorrow, as Morgan most surely did and would want me to do, is there any better birthday gift to give to your child? And yet, whatever birthday gift I ever gave to her in the past and give to her today, pales in comparison to what she gave to me. You see … she gave me the recognition of and connection with my very soul. Being inspired by my beloved daughter to seek out that seedling of hope and love in a forest of tears and pain.
So, for those who loved Morgan, yes, it’s ok to feel a bit of pain. But then, rejoice in the laughter she brought to you. The joy. The life. The love. Hold your head higher. Raise your glass. Remember and celebrate a life that yes, was cut far too short, but so well lived. Remember and smile.
As I surely will.