Friday, October 2, 2015

My Eulogy for My Father

My father died on August 10th, just less than two months ago. Nothing about losing him has been easy and somehow, it becomes more tragic with the passing weeks. I cry less, I think about his death less, but I realized today that the pain runs very deep and is still very present in my subconscious body and mind. 

Lately, I've been having fluttering sensations in my stomach and heart. It's uncharacteristic of me to experience nerves or anxiety, but that is how my emotions are manifesting. I've been spending far too much time avoiding those emotions by watching TV, playing games on my phone and surfing the internet. I haven't been spending near enough time connecting within and acknowledging these calls for attention from my body. 

Tonight I turned off the late night TV and wrote. I closed my eyes and I tuned in with that core center in my body that is in distress. The tears came. The grief resurfaced. 

I keep the program from my father's burial service, along with the eulogy I wrote and read for his memorial, in my journal. I try to pretend they aren't there, but they fall out when I write and I am very conscious of their existence. Tonight I unfolded them...opened them and looked and read. 

My dad is gone. I can't ignore the fact that the stability and foundation of my world are rocked. The anxiety is the presentation of my need to regain balance and solid ground in an emotional state of chaos and panic. Looking at the pictures and reading the words I wrote to memorialize him help me to grasp the new reality. 

9/10/15: Eulogy for Bruno F. Tschannen III
Written and read by Kristin Tschannen

Something I've been told again and again by friends and family in consolement over the loss of my father, is that there is not great grief where there was not great love. 

This last month, I have witnessed the shared grief by so many over his death and I have relished it; because, it reflects the love you all had for him. 

Many of you loved him as a friend, some of you loved him as a coach. We all loved Bruno the entertainer, the host and life of the party. He was loved deeply as a son, brother, husband and father.

What we all have in common, is that through him, we were able to witness his love for life. And it was because Bruno's love for and experience of life differed so dramatically from most, that he brought such a light of mischief and pleasure to us all. He sought out the (often inappropriate) humor in the mundane and gave us cause to laugh...loud, long and often.

He sang to us, he told us dirty jokes. He took us camping and fishing and taught us to fly. He taught us that good sportsmanship was more important than winning (especially among adults). He pulled pranks and got into trouble. He was very careful to cross the line so he could charm his way back into good graces.

My father was by no means a saint...but didn't he make devilish look fun? I kid of course, my dad was a deeply spiritual man. His faith pulled him through some low, hard times. His faith lifted him up. I rest easy knowing that, wherever he is, he is held; cradled in peace and love.

There is so much of my father here in you, his family and friends. You hold his love, his stories, his confidences. You knew his sadness and his delight. I ask that you continue to hold them. Keep those memories vital so his young grandchildren can bask in his vibrance for all of their years to come. 

I often think my dad lived his life to become a legend. I think about the way he sang his songs and told his stories and, looking back, realize he never met a stranger and he always left an impact. Of course, as a teenage girl, you don't necessarily want your parents leaving an impact; but there was no holding him back.

As a woman, I feel that one of my greatest strengths, one encouraged by my father, is my ability to push the line and not hold back...most often gracefully, I hope; but like my father, not always without repercussion. Fortunately, I inherited his easy way of charming my way back to good graces. I know, though, that I am still learning, as his daughter, to balance my legacy of vibrance.

After reading this eulogy, I asked my dad's friends and family to close their eyes. I asked them to think of Bruno's sparkling eyes and laughing face. I asked them to think about the times he left an impact on them, told them a joke or sang them a song. I asked them, in that moment, to be with him in spirit.

And then I asked them to be present in 'this' moment, with the ones he loved so much and held so dear.

And then I read them this poem, one that touched me deeply after his death:

Death is Nothing at All
by Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count. 
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

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