I am a single father of two beautiful boys – Toby (11), and Leo (8). My wife Shira, their mother, died of colorectal cancer on February 24, 2014. Since that time I’ve been struggling to gain a sense of purpose and direction. The context in which I moved about my life completely dissolved, leaving me with nothing to hold onto. From that time, everything I believed in was questioned, reasoned, examined, and ultimately deconstructed.
So it seemed, at least after I married Shira, that my life was like being on an 18th century, multi-masted schooner – named Family – sailing under sunny, warm skies and calm seas. I wasn’t the captain of that ship as much as my wife was. I was her first mate. As such, I could swab the decks, hoist the main sail, handle the never-ending maintenance issues of the vessel, and, of course, assist in the navigation towards our collective goals. When the seas got most rough, after her diagnosis on April 1, 2010, I was right there by her side to help keep the ship afloat and on track. Upon her death nearly four years later, I became the de facto captain of the vessel by virtue of my position and seniority (after all, the other sailors on board were quite young).
Since that self-promotion, we’ve been lost sailors in extremely rough and stormy seas. My boys and I have been battered by gigantic waves of grief and anger; thrown off course into confusion and doubt by cloudy, grey skies; and hurdled in far-flung directions by the winds of change. Meanwhile, I had no reputable intelligence all this time about the condition of the ship. The crew was near mutiny countless times, and mostly full of anxiety and anger. I didn’t know where we were, where we were going, or to where we should travel, nor did I know much about navigating a ship of this size alone. Over these years through the vast oceans of sadness, I’ve just been trying to keep the seaworthy boat afloat, and keep it from crumbling altogether.
The immediacy of taking my life into my own hands, fully – now as a single-father – and taking care of two young boys, has twisted me backwards, inside out, sideways, and upside down. And, there is no possibility of relinquishing my role as captain of this vessel. It’s the lowest rank I’ll wear for the rest of my life. The immensity and weight of my responsibility to guide and raise two boys through this adventurous life, and ultimately find joy in the precious harbors of the heart, has been a catalyst for intense change.
I now see this promotion as an opportunity. My wife has given me some precious gifts – taught me to love and to be loved, presented me with two illuminated beings, and left me with the burning impetus to take responsibility for my life in bigger, bolder ways. In her death was the ultimate sacrifice for the betterment of my life. I stand to charter a new course with her teachings and blessings.
My current existence seems the same from the outside looking in, except the partner I chose to sail through life with is no longer here. And so, I have questioned who I am without my beloved, Shira. I’ve questioned what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and where I’m living. I’ve questioned my occupation and all the various roles I play – brother, lover, father, mother, parent, son, friend, manager, colleague, etc. I yearn for a deeper perspective, a chance to re-evaluate my purpose and direction, and ultimately, for a foundation that will give meaning and context to my pursuit of love.
My quest to be the best parent my kids need when they need me, in the breadth of the masculine and feminine domains, drives me into a deeper understanding of love and its mysterious ways. As I travel around the world with my boys over this next year, I take a journey into the world of love. I seek to lead my boys completely out of the dark and into the light. I seek to bring us back into loving connection when grief is inflamed. I seek to show them that love unabashedly expressed is living fully. And, I ultimately seek to honor my wife’s death with my own life and love for it.
Please enjoy our site, and let yourself be inspired by the story of our travels.
-David, Leo, and Toby