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Today is my father’s birthday. I often struggle with the euphemisms we use for those who have died. What’s the right term when talking about someone who is no longer with us (see, there’s one right there).
I learned many, many things from my dad (more on that later this week), and of them was to not be too sentimental about death. In his work as a Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church, he dealt with death on a regular basis and, even as he was facing his own death, I believe he saw and understood that our focus should not be on death, but on what comes next – eternal life. That was the power of his understanding of his faith.
So, Dad wouldn’t mess around with gentle terms when speaking of death and, if he spoke of death euphemistically, he normally did so with a healthy dose of humor.
However, today, on his birthday, a word hit me that perfect sums up how I feel about my Dad’s death: away.
When we get together for family gatherings, Dad is not there, but there still. When I would turn to him for advice, I can’t call him, but I do hear him. When I feel a need for his support, he’s not giving me words of encouragement, but I feel those words, always.
Dad’s not here for his birthday today. He is simply away.
I really like the sound of that.
Happy Birthday, Dad.