It's a strange thing to learn of a loved one's passing who you didn't really like. I feel like I should be grieving more – then sometimes, I’m shocked I’m even grieving at all.

My step-father (the man who helped raise me for 39 years) succumbed to heart disease last week. It was something the family expected and frankly, we’re a little surprised this didn’t happen sooner.

Richard was a grumpy, disconnected man, who epitomized narcissism and never showed love. He’s gone – but not without leaving his legacy: I learned how to make the perfect
 gin martini when I was seven.

Archie Bunker had nothing on Richard. It’s easy to harbor feelings of anger and resentment with him - still, I feel a sense of peace, in my acceptance and forgiveness of his flaws.

Compassion trumps resentment.

I fly back to Hawaii, the scene of the crime, next week for the funeral. With just one flight across the Pacific, I am pulled back in to a life I’ve spent half my life trying to forget.

But maybe I shouldn’t forget. Maybe this experience is unfolding before me to serve as an opportunity to embrace the lessons I’ve learned.

There is a scene in George Clooney’s movie The Decedents which was filmed at The Elks Club in Waikiki – the backdrop to countless memories of abuse and neglect. It didn’t dawn on me that movie was filmed on O’ahu, and as soon as the camera framed Clooney and his on-screen daughter near this particular railing outside a restaurant, I gasped. Panic set in, and I nearly left the theater.

Then I took a breath. I marinated in the Now and realized – I don’t have to be a victim to my past. I can come full circle and own my truth, recognizing how far I’ve come.

My trip next week won't be easy, but I know that no matter what the circumstance, I can break the cycle and love deeply, even if Richard didn't know how to show it.

It’s the people that don’t show love who need it the most.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~ Dalai Lama