I believe smooth jazz is my angel. Sort of. You see my father was a smooth jazz maniac and before that he was a pure jazz fanatic. Had it not been for my father, I would have never known the magic of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, The Last Poets, Roy Ayers…the list could go on. And beyond music, my father gave me a foundation of goodness. Steeped in his parents’ southern black tradition, he wasn’t super religious but did have a quiet faith. He was known for his large heart, his laugh, his love of sun tea and desire to have a good life.
I speak in past tense because my father passed away last March. This year has been one of the hardest of my life. Beyond the normal Daddy’s Girl issues that arise when a daughter looses her father, I have the very specific experience of being chosen. My father was not my biological father but he is my father. You see, he chose me as his daughter even after he and my mom stopped dating over twenty five years ago. And I chose him too. We were running buddies, conversation pals, music lovers, food and wine amateur connoisseurs and part of the population of people who just wanted to be good.
My grandfather died when I was very young after being shot nine times after a card game. When he was gone, he was like a transparent angel that I sometimes talked to when I was up against a wall for some life answers. But that was it. There were no moving objects, shadows on the wall, or funny wind sounds. But when my father died, something clicked in me that made me believe that my father had not left, that he was now supposed to be my opaque angel. I haven’t stopped crying since.
In some strange way, my faith has been restored because my love for my father is so strong that he absolutely must be the reason for the small miracles that have happened this year. Once, on a particularly bad grief filled evening, I was crying driving home and flipped on the smooth jazz station (since my father adored it) and “Unforgettable” was playing. The lyrics made me take note. I said, “Dad, if this is you, then this will be the version with Natalie and her dad.” It was. Not believing I said, “Dad, if this is really you, they’ll be a parking space nearby my apartment.” There was. When I needed a screw for something in my car, a screw fell on my head in a hallway out of the blue. These things may be minor, but they are things my father would have been in charge of when he was alive.
Dad’s death has restored my faith in angels because he is so obviously one now. I believe that we create our loved ones’ afterlife, by keeping them so near to our hearts and part of our daily lives.
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