Snuggled up with my son that evening twelve years ago, quietly crying together over the eventual loss of one another in some imagined future, I could honestly reassure him that my love for him is as strong as anything life can toss at us. And our love is likely to even outlast our death. Drawing on our trust, faith, and love for one another; we managed to create a little life raft that evening with our intertwined bodies. A raft we still rely on during tough times.
My son and I have continued to talk about his grandpa over the years, looked at family photos together, and honored his life and death in other simple ways. At times my son, and then my daughter, have both expressed regret about not having had the chance to have met my father (though I admit to being grateful at times that they didn't as he was a complicated, ill man when he died). The fact that I now have discussions with my children that I can’t with my own father is proof to me that life goes on in all it’s bittersweet grace. The Buddhist saying, Nam myoho renge kyo (which I learned in a meditation class, loosely translated as "The deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus flower blooms") reminds us all that spiritual strength, beauty, and a reverence for the circle of life are possible through life's most difficult experiences.