Someone posed the question to me the other day, “Who has influenced your life the most?” I thought about it for a moment and then unequivocally answered, “My father.” My answer surprised me since I think many people have influenced my life. It may seem like a pretty standard answer to the question for most people. Here’s the caveat or surprise, though: my dad was only in my life for a very short 4 ½ years, not long.
I realized that my dad, James Evan MacKay profoundly influenced my life. I have never expressed this profound connection to myself or to anyone else. At this time in my life, however, I realize his importance in my life’s direction. I realize he’s been there for me, not in a material sense, but I guess in a spirit sense, in a heartful sense. He’s always been in my heart. I have not talked to him, though I know that it’s a visual exercise one can do with close friends or family members who have made their transition. I’ve never been one to go to séances or to talk to departed spirits, and I don’t have a strong belief in that.
What I know about my experience with my dad in this life is that it occurred before I had a great faculty with language or life as I know it now. It occurred in the time of my life where I was developing emotionally. It was before I learned to read and write or add and subtract or in effect have the mental and physical skills of an adolescent and an adult. I have a few memories and pictures of him while he was with me. He had at least one conversation where I recall being there physically in my body, but I didn’t grasp, I think, that he was trying to tell me that he was going to die. I didn’t know what dying was. He talked to me about being an adult, I believe. It didn’t really make too much sense, and I don’t remember how I felt; only confused.
I would say the event of his dying and death was not a consciously traumatic experience, but one that my family carefully crafted me through, avoiding the emotionality of it. In other words, his suffering from cancer was for the most part hidden from me. There was no grief or crying for me; there was only, after his death, enjoying a trip up to my aunt’s in Sudbury, Ontario, and getting ready to start school, shortly. Carefully planned distractions to ease me through until school started. Unfortunately, for me a pretty blank, perhaps emotionally empty time, not that I felt like I was suffering. Perhaps, I could say in retrospect, I just didn’t feel anything deeply too much. Perhaps there was sadness at the loss of my great friend and prince, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it.
So, in essence, this experience put me face to face with the ineffableness of life. – That’s why I say that this relationship with my dad was a profound one. Life is a mystery. I have learned to journey in this mystery, this uncertainty. There is always the evident, the familiar, but also there is the mystery; both have been familiar realities with which I’ve lived. There is for each of us our life’s purpose and journey of each day, and there is also death and completion at journey’s end. I’ve learned and practiced loving each new step on this journey, and I’ve tried to live as fully as possible and to the best of my ability. I feel I have been loved and guided by certain others and by this Mystery, however you name it. I am grateful for it all. My fondest wish is to portray, practice, and express this love, this spirit of the Mystery for others.