If you’ve read my bio, you know that in May of 1995, I suddenly became a single father over night. The tragedy left me in a space that I had never experienced before. I was both in shock and terror. At the same time, I knew what I had to do and by the grace of God I found the courage I needed each and every day. The tragedy humbled me beyond years. I found myself asking God to shine down on me and grant me the hope and courage that I needed to carry on.

Over time, I wavered back and forth between my responsibilities as a single father, as well as a grieving husband. When I needed to be a single dad, whether it was to help my girls with homework, attend a school event or listen to an issue they experienced at school, I was able to focus on the task at hand. There were moments when I was frustrated and scared but as the hours became days and the days weeks, I could feel my confidence as a single father grow. I became more comfortable but more importantly, I knew that they were going to be okay.

At the same time, when it came time to grieve, I embraced that emotion as well. I mentioned in an earlier story how in the first several weeks, I developed insomnia. All of a sudden I was alone in our bed and I couldn’t sleep. Rather than continue to fight it, I embraced the feeling and found comfort and sleep in Jody’s closet. I surrounded myself with one of her blouses and took in her scent. This helped me to feel close to her again and I was able to relax and fall asleep.

There were times when I was alone and really, really missed her. In those moments, I would play one or more songs; songs that were either our favorites and had meaning or songs that would guide me to expressing my grief. Doing this often resulted in me crying and feeling sad but I noticed that at the same time, I felt closer to Jody and the gap or hole I felt in my heart seemed to shrink just ever so much. Although it evoked sadness and past memories, it also made everything past and present seem sweeter and more special. In these moments, I found that even sadness can promote peace and healing.

I also found this to be true; that when life takes something away from you, it makes what’s left behind more special, a gift, a treasure and a blessing. This is what I saw when I looked at my girls from day to day; that being, the greatest gift, the most treasured treasure, that any man could ever be blessed with. And although there was great courage and hope present, I know what won the day, which was love. What I reached for more often that not, was in my heart and my sense of love for each of them. True, sincere, unconditional love.

Oh sure, I got scared and there were moments when I was angry but my love for them always took precedent. I felt that by sharing my love with each of them, I was also sharing my love with Jody. I became so aware of who I was being, what I was saying and what I was doing in my interactions with them, that I hardly ever skipped a beat. So much of what I did with them and for them, brought me a great sense of joy and my love seemed to grow which each day.

I never thought that I would be the kind of father I was becoming. It was without a doubt, the most rewarding experience I’d ever had and ever will have. Often I thought, "what’s going on in their heads, what are they feeling in their hearts?" I asked but they usually couldn’t answer or didn’t know how. It was hard for them to share and be expressive, which made it hard for me to reach them and know what they were really feeling.

I wanted so much to reach them, to take away their sadness and pain. I learned through counseling and reading that I could not undue what had happened. By realizing that, I was able to let go of the past, where I had no say, no control and got very present. I came to the realization that answers were not important, explanations were not necessary and what my girls needed was not what was between my ears, rather, what was in my heart; simple love. Now that I could offer them.

It’s natural under the best of circumstances for a parent, especially a single parent, to want to alleviate a child’s sadness and protect them from anything else that may hurt them. I was blessed enough to realize that the motivation behind that emotion was fear, not love. I knew I couldn’t wipe the slate clean and take away what had happened or reverse the awful tragedy they had experienced, but I could love them with all of my being and let them know they were safe and cared for.

I knew how to love them and I did so with hugs, fun, poems, cards and encouragement. I adopted this saying and shared it with them every morning as they boarded the bus, had a test at school or a special event, "be the best," I would say to them. And by golly they were.

I included them in every little thing we did, so that they had a sense of unity and security. We went shopping together, they helped me in the kitchen at dinner time, we would also read, watch shows & movies together. I assigned them basic chores around the house and made them responsible for keeping their rooms tidy. And although it was difficult at times, I often reached out to them by sharing what I was feeling, in the hope that they would in turn share with me what was in their hearts.

It’s funny but I didn’t sit down and draw up this big elaborate plan on what we needed to do and when we needed to do it. I just took one day at a time, put one foot in front of the other and kept telling myself, we’ll get there, one day at a time.

My belief became their belief and what I achieved, they achieved. It was almost as if we were one and they knew that I would do anything for them. As the months passed, I could see the sparkle in their eyes return, there were more smiles, more laughter. I was so thankful and grateful that they had seemed to turn the corner emotionally. I remember crying one specific day in the fall out on the porch. I sensed they were healing and were emerging from the deep darkness that had rushed into their lives.

It’s amazing what the human spirit can endure. It’s even more amazing how much love we have in our hearts; we just need to learn how to give it away. Looking back, I always thought I was a warm and loving individual, my wife’s death and my girls taught me more than I ever knew was possible to learn. The one thing I learned for sure, is that there’s a lesson in everything in life, even tragedy.

Author's Bio: 

Larry Agresto is a Life & Success Coach and the founder of Peak Performance Coaching.
He is also a writer, author and speaker. His work and writings focus on change and transformation. His latest work “The Power of Magical Thinking,” is about empowering people to realize their “true potential,” enabling them to live the fulfilled life they’ve always hoped for.

Shifting from the “automatic pilot”behavior of negative past experiences and limited thinking, one becomes capable of being truly present once again. In doing so, we begin to experience the unlimited thinking of the present moment, which in turn empowers the opportunity for unlimited possibilities into our lives.

He has written several e-books; “The Principles of Success, The Journey, What’s Stopping You and The 21 Day Breakthrough.” His latest e-book is entitled “The Power of Magical Thinking.”

Think Magic

Larry Agresto
Life & Success Coach
Peak Performance Coaching
(978) 649-1020