On 6 March 2012, a massive solar flare erupted and an associated coronal mass ejection was launched toward Earth. Video of the solar flare from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory can be viewed here.
This was also the night before my father's funeral.
We returned home from the prayer service in a blizzard but within a few hours the storm had cleared entirely and the northern sky above my childhood home lit up with a spectacular display of aurora borealis. The sky was literally dancing. White lights got brighter and whiter and turned shades of green. They moved in magnetic whips and swirls from east to west directly above our heads.
I don't believe that was simply coincidence.
My dad loved nature, the outdoors, and the night sky. He taught me names and locations of constellations. He did research and followed schedules of meteor showers and space station travel. Heavensabove.com was one of his favourite sites. He and my mom would drive out to the golf course, lay on the hood of their truck and observe the stars undisturbed from light pollution.
We included an excerpt from The Desiderata in the bulletin that was handed out at the funeral.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
My dad was a proud member of many organizations throughout his life, including The Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The faith recognizes many Saints and Holy days throughout the year. The calendar sites March 1st, the day my dad passed away, to be the day of Great Martyr Theodore of Tyro.
My dad's name is Theodore (Ted).
The community lost one of its finest citizens.
A lot of groups lost a valuable contributor and volunteer.
I lost a father.
But my mother lost her partner, lover and best friend of fifty-one years.
My husband says hardship doesn't build character, it reveals it. And this event has clearly revealed my mother's strength.
She is carrying on. She is putting one foot in front of the other. It is painful and difficult and she knows things will be different. Things are completely different, yet exactly the same. But she is managing and coping and adjusting to new way of living. It is remarkable and admirable to witness her courage.
Like him, she is an inspiration to us all.
After the funeral we ate, drank, laughed and told stories, exactly as my dad would have wanted. Perhaps my cousin summed it up best, While the visit had its sorrow, I think there was a lot of joy that was felt at the same time. Hard to believe that those two emotions could be unleashed simultaneously.
When someone dies no one really knows what to do or say. They bring food, they offer condolences and say, please let us know if there is anything we can do.
At the lunch following the service my sister and brother and I each said a few words.
These were mine:
What you can do is honour his memory by continuing to practice the values that my dad believed in. Be kind, generous, patient and fair. Ask questions, have ideas, learn. Laugh, love and find peace.