On February 23, 2012, my life changed forever. This was the day my father passed away, the day he was finally at peace after his twelve year battle with various forms of cancer. Many emotions rush through your soul when faced with a tragedy like this, and while I tried to focus on the relief of his pain, gut wrenching anguish swallowed me completely.
I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be able to recover. The life that I knew was shattered, I couldn’t imagine putting the pieces back together again. Even if I was able to quilt the jagged pieces of my heart back together, I didn’t know if it was going to be a life with joy. However, though great friends, strong family, and memorable entertainment I was able to restart my life.
My father loved movies and music. I have countless memories from my childhood (and well into adulthood) with the two of us that revolve around these elements of entertainment. I was introduced to the rock of the 70s and 80s through his music collection, knowing every word to most of the songs by The Eagles at an early age, and hearing the story of how “he played” with Santana at a bar in California. He loved action movies, and I grew up on the action movies of the 80s (Commando will always have a special place in my heart). Not to mention his humor, and the glorious brilliance of early SNL movies (Steve Martin was a staple of my childhood).
In the year that followed his passing, it was hard to ingest certain things because the emotions were too raw. For example, I would hear “Take It Easy” and immediately be 4 years old singing while watching him playing his guitar along with his record. It was hard to revisit those beloved movies and songs for fear of another breakdown. I found myself in the middle of an internal dilemma, will I be subjecting solace or torment onto myself by revisiting the important things in our relationship?
It was then that I realized that I could use the torment to create solace, and somehow I was able to transform my pain into strength. I no longer view these memories as forgotten times never to be experienced again, but instead as reminders of the man he was and the person he would want me to become. I gained confidence knowing that somewhere he is watching over me and these are reminders that he will always be in my heart. I can listen to his Memorial playlist and envision him enjoying the songs instead of the funeral, or have the anticipation to share The Last Unicorn with my kids as my dad did with me.
It’s in this realization that I fully grasped the importance of entertainment in our lives. Entertainment has sometimes been mistaken for frivolous components of a spoiled lifestyle, that indulging in the boob-tube is a waste of time instead of an educational pursuit. That’s not to say that this argument isn’t valid (or could continue to be argued), but nothing is ever black and white. We live in a world of grey, in which every reason is valid. Entertainment is a release, a strength for some and a way to heal for others.
Most entertainers pursue their passions into a career. These actors, directors, writers, and musicians feel passionate about their craft and want to pass that along to the world. They create their artwork with a heart full of love. It’s understandable that others transform that love into their own. When we can focus on this shared connection, anything is possible. It doesn’t matter if someone loves the same movie or song as you do, it’s what you feel that’s important.
I’m sure that I would have been able to heal and put myself back together, in time, after my father’s passing, but I’m glad I had these creative ventures to help me. They help to keep him alive, to keep parts of our life together tangible as time wanders forward. The memories stay fresh, allowing me to dive into the deep waters of adoration thinking about the man my father was.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss my father with all my heart. I wish I could call him and hear his voice, or have his full bodied genuine laugh fill me with joy. I could have used his advice and encouragement countless times these last 5 years, and wonder what he would have thought about new movies or life in general. It is still painful knowing that I can never have these things, but that doesn’t mean I live in distress. If I’m in need of a piece of him, I have so many of his favorite things to cling to. I am never without his memory.
Sense memory is a powerful thing, something to be respected, to strive for. To me, entertainment is much more than my passion, it’s a reminder that we can form lasting memories with our loved ones, and allow others to gain strength from works of art.
“He bloomed until that old hickory wind called him home.”
Written by Lisa Mejia