Rest in peace, Dad

Dad and me

My father passed away on Monday morning. Mom and I were with him when he took his last breath. We sang Three Little Birds, a song he taught me, the only song that came to mind out of a hundred possible songs. It was so appropriate, though, that I can’t help but think his spirit was guiding us, even at the moment of his death.

Rise up this morning
Smile with the rising sun
Three little birds
Sitting by my doorstep
Singing a sweet song, a melody pure and true
Singing: “This is my message to you.”
“Don’t worry ’bout a thing,
’cause every little thing
gonna be all right.”

I’d never witnessed a death until yesterday. It reminded me of birth; you offer what support you can, but ultimately the struggle falls on the shoulders of the person going through it. I’m grateful he didn’t struggle for long, and that he knew he was loved until the end.

Dad's tea, 2003

It’s not his death that’s left an impression, but his dying. Death is a moment; dying is a process. Each day, we’re one moment closer to that last breath. The last six weeks have been incredibly difficult, but also transformative. They’ve forced me to look at my life and reevaluate and reinforce my priorities from the perspective of someone who has only a few days, a few weeks, a few years.

If you knew just how precious your time was, would you spend it differently?

I don’t think I could truly appreciate that question until I was faced with losing someone.

A meeting with the mouse

For the first time, I understand clearly what I believe, something I’d been unable to articulate until now. I hesitate to call it faith; I’m more comfortable with spirituality. Whatever you call it, Dad’s dying gave me a better sense of myself and my beliefs, and that’s a gift.

Popsicle time

I look for these silver linings because he wouldn’t want us to mope, but the simple fact is, I miss him. I know I’m not the only one, given the number of visitors, calls, and messages left for us over the last day.

It only reinforces my belief that the spirit lives on long after the body is gone, in the memories of the ones who loved us, and in the number of lives we touch during our time here.

Photo by Robin MacNeil
Photo by Robin MacNeil

And when I’m in doubt, I’ll always have those three little birds to remind me.

Don’t worry ’bout a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right.


  1. So well said Caroline. Your dad would be very happy with what you’ve gotten from his process and that you took such a big part in it. Thanks for sharing it all so well and much love from Cindy and I.

  2. So very sorry to hear you’re heart is heavy. Love, light, and peace as you move through this.

    (Those little birds are wise beyond their years.)

  3. I do not know you personally, but I was moved by your post. My sincerest condolences to you and your family.
    p.s. What a very appropriate song!

  4. I missed your dad for 45 years. Now I’ll miss him forever. At least got to re-connect with him in the virtual world.

  5. I’m sorry for your loss. Losing your Dad can leave a big hole in your heart. Your Dad was a good friend of my brother’s when we were kids growing up in Glenmont, NY. I was so sorry to stumble on this news. Perhaps he and my brother, Brian, (comment above) are together in spirit, hiking through the woods and playing in the “gorge” in Glenmont. Brian passed away on May 30th this year.

  6. Oh Megan, I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. I know it meant a lot to Dad to be able to reconnect with Brian over the last few years. Sending healing thoughts to you and the rest of your family.

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