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In accordance with my faith, I lit a memorial candle for my beloved father this morning; it is four years today since he died in my arms. The candle will burn for more than twenty-four hours. Not only does it remind me of the grief I still feel, but it also represents the light that was my dad--and his fervent wish that I would persevere by embracing the opportunities that life offers.

I confess that moving forward is not easy; sometimes even getting out of bed in the morning challenges me beyond my capabilities. Grief over my dad’s passing often imprisons me; I can only find release by lying on the couch and hiding under his quilt. I have learned that grief is not just a pain felt in my heart, but also a source of many of my physical ailments, like headaches, and emotional problems, like depression.              

But Dad was a man who experienced his own setbacks and persevered. He never knew his father--a man who died in the 1918 flu epidemic when Dad was not yet three years old. Even so, Dad put aside self-pity by becoming a good son to my grandmother, a strong student, an outstanding optometrist, and a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. His example of surviving and thriving sustained me through my divorce, the challenges of being a single mother to two teenagers, and the sadness of burying my beloved grandma, mother, and, of course, father.

To persevere does not mean that I put aside my grief, but it does require me to not let it dominate my life and choices. To persevere demands that I wake up remembering the past, but also welcoming the present and looking forward to the future. It means living up to the example Dad set for me and then setting a positive example for my adult children--individuals who face their own challenges and demons.  

I move forward. I continue to teach at age seventy-one. I usher at local theaters, I fill my life with books from the local library. I arrange social outings with friends. I schedule trips that allow me to enjoy time with my son and daughter. I encourage myself to find humor even in the serious and light in the darkness.

I persevere--because that is how my dad would want me to live.

Ronna Edelstein
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania