North Star from My Father
“I will continue to return to you if you are on stage.”
This was the phrase my father said to me the first time he came to me in my dreams after his transition. I was only twenty-four. In hindsight I was still a kid, yet I thought I was so grown. I thought I wanted to be a singer, so I took his advice quite literally, and I bought myself a ticket to China and got on stage with a childhood friend, having a blast the whole time.
There are still times where I think singing is my calling - mainly in the shower these days or when teaching my seven year old my favorite songs from my favorite musicals when I was her age. But I’ve evolved and now I take “the stage” to mean being as present as humanly possible in my life.
Taking this advice to heart often brings a great deal of discomfort, anxiety, and confusion. And isn’t this always the case? There is nothing that I would not give to just smell my father again, to hear his voice, and the closest thing I have is the little signs he gives me.
For example, recently I was going through a pretty tough patch and was asking the universe for grace and signs that all will be well.
I was in a taxi with my husband one particular morning when I thought our driver took a wrong turn. I was just about to start my very skilled backseat driving when I realized that I was being taken down the block where my father used to work. I have such fond memories of our time there, when things felt simpler for me.
Instantly I felt a calm descend over me. I thanked the universe for my sign and walked the rest of the day with this calm, knowing that I am still somehow on the stage he set out for me.
I often say out loud to myself, “I wish he were here.” I say this aloud, not only because I want someone who I know will make me feel powerful at the times I need it the most, but because I have found joy in a real way and I want to share every bit of it with him.
It’s been thirteen years since my father passed away. I have found a new sense of peace that helps me through my days, a career that suits me and a man who loves me in a way that reminds me of my faith each day.
Through my life, I try to show my father that the sacrifices he and my mom made paid off and to give him a soulful “thank you.” I try to thank him for showing me what it looks like to dream, and giving me the space and permission to do so myself.
Having the time pass has not made the pain any less sharp or present. I have simply learned how best to live with it. And what a gift he has given me by forcing me to be present and on stage each and every day as a way to always feel connected to him.
So, what is your North Star?
I hope that this story helps you find the thing that grounds you in the midst of all the titles you possess. Maybe your North Star is the missing piece as you move through your journey. For me, showing up, authentically and present each day, has been the greatest gift my father gave me.
Linara Davidson Greenidge is the Managing Director for Development and External affairs at East Harlem Tutorial Program. She serves as an adjunct instructor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and as a board member for the National Black Theatre and Eleanor's Legacy.