My father died a year ago today.

No, that’s not quite right.

He died on February 29, 2020. That day doesn’t exist this year – or next, or the year after that.

The fact that the date itself is not on my calendar, doesn’t prevent me from remembering, reflecting, and honoring him. Still, it’s a strange phenomena: to have such a significant marker arrive and almost pass me by, to not be something I can land on, see in front of me, capture, or hold.

Perhaps because this is so, I am even more aware of him, his life, his death, and his ongoing influence on and presence in my life. Maybe it’s something being intangible that makes it all the more real, more true.

And this makes me wonder about something else equally (and perhaps even more) intangible…and real…and true.

As we develop, mature, grow, and transform, we move from reliance on the voices and seeming-wisdom of those around and outside us to an awareness of and trust in the voice and actual-wisdom we hold within. We learn to listen to our intuition. We are willing and able to hear our deepest heart. We know-that-we-know-that-we-know. 

But like February 29, there is little to validate such – at least externally. It requires that we hold onto something WE know, but that others can’t easily see, name, or acknowledge. It requires that WE be the ones to remember, reflect, and honor who we truly are. It requires that WE mark, name, and denote all the brilliance and beauty we hold within. And all of this without measure, without out-loud celebration, without any date on the calendar.

As I think about my dad, I know he’d understand what I’m talking about. Our best conversations were always philosophical in nature. Unanswerable and intangible questions that we wrestled to the ground. Endless unknowing that we attempted to lasso and hold – even for a moment – before it slipped out of our grasp. Books we’d read, things we’d pondered and perseverated on, stories we’d lived or heard that captured something nebulous, mysterious, glimmering, and true. Always heady. Always stimulating. Sometimes frustrating. And endlessly reliable: his thinking, his pushing the boundaries, his deep desire for knowing, understanding, and being, and his requirement that I do and be the same.

So, on this non-day – February 29 or March 1 – I’m holding on to three irrefutable but un-markable truths:

  1. This day, the day my father left our presence, exists and is real – whether seen and named on my calendar, or not. It’s deserving of a date. He is. And, as my mom acknowledged in his memorial service, it was just like him to die on a leap year so that we’d only have to remember him every four years. Mmm hmm.
  2. My wisdom, my knowing, my heart is as reliable (and even more so) than the wisdom that can be named, written down, memorialized, taught in institutions, praised in public forums, or canonized in sacred tomes.
  3. This is true about your wisdom, your knowing, your heart, as well.

You, me, all of us have vast and infinite opportunity to believe and trust in ourselves – our wisdom, our knowing, our heart. It doesn’t matter that it can’t be proven, that it’s different from the status quo, that it defies cultural norms, that it upsets the apple cart, that there’s no date on the calendar.

And if you’re struggling to believe this, to trust this, to be this, you can be certain that my dad is holding every bit of it on your behalf. Me, too. I am my father’s daughter, after all.