February comes with a mixed bag of emotions—it starts with my birthday, followed by a mid-month celebration of my parents’ anniversary and ends in a big bang as we commemorate my father’s death.
Twenty-four years ago, life was completely different. Twenty-four years ago, I was completely different. There was a certain innocence. And February just seemed to bring out more of it every year. I was fortunate to spend six years of my life completely basking in the serendipity of this state of being until my tryst with destiny.
Today, when I look back, I attribute that one day in February with creating a glow within. Like a light never diminishing, not fully at least.
That one chance encounter changed my whole world. It changed me. It was soul turning.
My father’s passing was the cause of this effect. The very moment I received the news, something stirred within me. It was a pull I haven’t experienced again. It drew me towards hope and philosophy, and I started believing in a higher force guiding us onward.
My father was almost 30 when he passed—a life lost too early, those around us said. Through tears and mourning, I felt his invisible hand lead me to be the source of hope in my family and society. I matured overnight. I experienced a stirring strength and mindfulness within me.
My heart knew what it had to do. And with my father watching over me, I knew he would guide me every step of the way.
For me, he became that higher force who had all the answers. And whenever I lost sight of the road ahead, like Google maps, he was the voice that spoke to me and got me back on track.
I received the most valuable gift from him—the meaning of hope.
I learned to genuinely smile, at strangers specially, for no reason. I learned to offer help and a compassionate gesture if I saw them struggle. I learned to give soulful advice such that grow-ups would be left in awe. I learned to be glad to be able to ignite hope again. And in the bargain, I learned that this process would expand my inner circle and recycle my aura of hope too.
I learned to laugh my heart out until each person was infected with it. I learned the effortless release of selflessness, the kind that fuel us with extreme joy and energy. I learned it was okay for my stomach to hurt or burst into tears with laughter.
I learned to pray more sincerely, as I realized hope and happiness in others leads you to feel it too. I learned to pray more for others. I learned to celebrate the most when each prayer was answered, no matter if time wasn’t in my favor.
I learned to enjoy each day as if it was not going to come again. I had seen the transiency of life right in front of my eyes, and I taught myself to live life to the fullest. I learned to collect memories—the good, bad and ugly. I learned to look back with a smile and treasure them all.
There was a hymn we sang back in high school, “This little guiding light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” I learned to make it my go-to song. I learned to turn to such songs and find pleasure in entertainment.
I learned because I saw light glow through my father and the events that occurred. And through that experience, I learned to see each person and every space, time and period as hope, because it just made things better and life more full and complete. I imagined hope to be a golden substance inside of me that would grow bigger and bigger with every piece that was on sale for free.
It was hope I saw. It was encouragement I received. It was happiness and delight. It was magic.
In these years of learning, I have seen and heard from strangers who crossed paths with my father and inevitably became his friends. With a twinkle in their eye, they narrated stories of his kindness, generosity and goodness. They expressed the subtlety in which he helped them change their lives. It was that hope they most appreciated. And with that hope, my father lived on in their hearts.
I learned through his example that to make the change we wish to see, it is essential to selflessly deliver a piece of me. I learned that re-growth is inevitable, too. Hesitation should not get in the way of greater good.
I learned to pay it forward, because it is the legacy of hope created by one person that must live on through us for our own hope and happiness. We are all entwined by one single thread. To stay strong, the thread must not break. I learned to make this my philosophy, an extension of me.
This February, I challenged myself to make it a month of hope, of smiles and festivity. I learned to make a tragic loss a cause for happy celebrations and gratitude. I can’t tell how much I succeeded, but it was a step towards filling up a piece of me that lay barren.
As I reflect on the years gone by, I’ve learned that hope has always existed by watching through invisible eyes. As my journey to learn more about hope, and gift it to others, gains momentum, I’ve realized that angels of hope join forces with my creator, come in my realm to up my faith and drop a precious pearl in my heart.
A thank you seems too small. All I can do to repay a life filled with hope is fulfill a promise, a purpose, a will to drop a piece of me in every nook and corner of the path I move on.
Author: Divya Bansal
Apprentice Editor: Kathy Baum; Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Stew Dean/Flickr