I once read that "even the most difficult hour has 60 minutes."
The twelve months that passed, though, felt that they carried more than 60 minutes in each and every one of the 8.760 hours that comprised them.
365 days ago, to the day, I lost my father, and along with him, my best friend, and my Mentor. You can read more about his life, principles and values here.
Death, whether it be impending or sudden, is always unfair and hard-to-deal-with. Coping with the resulting grief and loss wasn’t easy for both our immediate as well as the extended family, as it wasn’t for our friends. If you are recovering from the loss of a loved one, you might be going through the most difficult experience of your entire life.
3 simple pieces of advice to help you stay strong during tough times
Feel free to follow any of the following advice given to me by my father when he was alive and probably oblivious to the fact that that these three pieces of wisdom would aid me to cope with his loss by helping to soothe the pain.
My only hope is that it will serve the same purpose for you or for someone that you love and genuinely care about.
Here we go:
1. Sometimes, to forget is not an option
A few decades ago, my father and I were standing on our front porch. It was at a time when I was “mourning” the loss of a love affair that I was serious about. At a certain point during our conversation, my father put his arm on my right shoulder and uttered the following two words:
By now, you will be wondering what question of mine my father was replying to. Here’s what I asked him:
“When will I forget this woman, dad?”
Erasing from memory the people that mean (and meant) so much to us may not be an option, but life has to go on, even with them being absent from it.
2. Only the date is different
My father was undergoing hemodialysis since the age of 65. He endured it for almost 15 years. Even though a lot of older people pass the ten-year mark when it comes to hemodialysis treatment, the taxing nature of the process takes its toll on the patient and the ten-year mark feels like a twenty-year scar.
My father exhibited a lot of courage throughout his treatment, to the point that he made it look like he was going for a walk in the park three times a week – every week – for five hours. I often asked my mother if he was complaining and if he was scared while undergoing treatment. We tend to confide more into our wives rather than to our children, so I popped the question to my mother for I was curious as to the answer. Her reply was that the only time my father got upset or scared was when there was a possibility that his beloved Virardi Enterprises (www.virardi.com), the company he built from the ground up, might lose business to a competitor! After that, I went ahead and asked my father, in the later stages of his life, how come he was so courageous and what the secret to ‘surpassing’ his fear of dying was. His reply was like his work – concise and concrete – and hit me like a ton of bricks:
“Son”, he told me, “only the date is different, the fate is the same.”
It all comes down to what we put into the hours that God allocated to us.
3. If you cannot cheer yourself then cheer someone else
Mark Twain famously said, "The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.” Ever since my father departed, both my wife Christine and I, invested a lot of time with another Rolando Virardi – our 5-year-old son.
Immersing yourself in the enchanting world of children – if you don’t have any, you can always immerse yourself in the worlds of your close relatives’ children – releases, according to experts, oxytocin, affectionately known as the ‘love hormone’.
Life is short, my friends, and we tend to make it even shorter by spending time fussing about the unimportant things in life, the trivial minutiae. If your parents are alive, hug them today (better yet do it now) and make sure that you keep all your bridges intact and regularly walkable, before you need to hug your children as a replacement and a remedy for opportunities lost.
Being happy does not necessarily mean that everything or everyone you want in your life is present there. Not every day will be a good day but, make no mistake, there is something good to be found in every single day.
Today might not be the best day of my life, as it marks a year without my father, but it is a splendid day in that I have a wife and a son (who carries the exact name and surname as his grandfather) that I adore and for whom I work hard towards becoming the husband and father that they would like me to be. I also have a caring mother who is being incredibly strong after her loss (55 years of marriage says a lot about what she and my father have gone through together) and whom I need to look after. And, finally, my relationship with my brother Giovanni has never been better, because after our father 'left us', we both found ourselves in the driver’s seat of the Virardi legacy and, together, we pushed onward and into the future, realizing that life is short and we are the only ones left to carry our father’s legacy forward.
Miss you dad.