Atlanta has been having some awfully lovely sunsets, of late. The kind that stop you in your tracks, that stretch as far as you can see from edge to edge: salmons and blues, corals and pinks, bright gold and turquoise. Each a marvel this week. But I’ll tell you: one stopped me in my tracks.
As I headed west (naturally!) on one of our main Decatur thoroughfares, I drove up the slope and slowed for the red light. As I did so, “all in a sudden” (as Leo Buscaglia said), the colorful, wide horizon came into view at the top of the hill. And right at that corner, as I sat to gaze, I again noticed on that very corner the 4-story assisted living place where my dad lived the last 9 years of his life. Of course, that’s a very bittersweet spot for me & my sisters: we loved him dearly, visited him often, regularly dropped off supplies & lots of hand lotion & even brought the nephews along to play piano for him. That very building housed both dear and difficult things: it kept him safe & nourished & companion’d for all that while, and yet it also was the place where his dear, fading cognitive skills slowly drained away.
As I looked at that facility, I felt an emotional catch in my throat. I quickly looked away (as if to block the sight of that place), but then slowly & thoughtfully brought my eyes back to that place: the better to allow in all the emotions, both the pleasant & the difficult, with the wide expanse of incredible color stretched from side to side. For once I was grateful for the long, long light—and simply let myself soak in the amazing colors as well as the heart-tugs of seeing that building. Once the light changed, I turned the corner, then as quickly as I could, I pulled to the curb on a neighborhood street, strapped the leash onto my ever-eager terrier, and walked right along the side streets–toward the bright western sky–to ‘mentally visit Dad’ as the sunset lingered. As a combination of prayer, mentally listing Dad’s traits & gifts that I’m ever-grateful for, and feeling as if he was walking right alongside me, I was also aware of how very very much I miss Dad. It was a sweet little, quiet walk. Once the last traces of the sunset had subsided, I thought: how sweet and bittersweet this has been. Rather than ducking away from the pain-part, I felt open to both the good parts and the hard parts. The stunning sunset: spotted right alongside a physical bldg that conjures up so much emotion for me. Letting in both the soothing and the longing.
And (true), as I buckled up and drove home, I was behind a slow-moving, shiny white Hyundai. Taking my time and following behind, I was able to even read the fine print on this car’s license plate holder-frame. Its message? “An Angel… is watching over me.” I just happen to believe that that’s true.
Claudia Brogan is a lifelong trainer and educator, having worked and taught
at universities in student leadership, psychology, student advising, and
counseling. Lately, she's foraying into doing training in the public health arena, which is a very different world indeed, a risk in itself! She'll try anything once, if it sounds fun, and so she’s joining this circle of resourceful, colorful, gutsy women – what the hell?! Claudia can be reached on Facebook.
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