Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
The other day, I passed by a little stack of photos that appeared on my dining room table. Really…I have no idea where they came from. I took a look and almost gasped as I saw the picture of my dad just one year before his death. It was shocking to see how wonderful he looked. He was smiling, his eyes bright, his face tanned. He looked healthy. I was taken back by how well he had looked so close to his passing. I had forgotten.
At the same time, I had another realization. A few days had gone by and I hadn’t given dad much thought. This saddened me a little. I don’t want his life to fade from my memory. I want to sense his presence even if it’s in the familiar heaviness of grief. It was a sign…time was marching on.
Now my first Father’s Day without dad has passed. We celebrated my husband, of course. But I couldn’t help recall how my sisters and I had each brought a dish to dad’s last year. We gathered around the dining room table to enjoy a lovely meal, warm conversation, a few laughs. (Always with dad!!) His fairly new caregiver joined us for the laughs, the chats, the prayers. We really liked Bea. We didn’t know she would be there for the remainder of his days. We didn’t know how few days remained. Oh how thankful I am for making sure we celebrated dad that day…one of our last meals , one of our last celebrations together.
This past week marked the one-year anniversary of dad’s death. He died just about a month after Father’s Day. It had been a difficult year for dad. He lost his beloved wife of 30 years, Jane. And though he tried to move on, keep a stiff upper lip, carry on (“Carry on, men.” Dad used to say to his four daughters and one son if we were dawdling ), there was a sadness that nothing could take away. He missed his friend, his bride, as he so often referred to Jane. And sickness, what we eventually learned was peripheral vascular disease, came on with a vengeance. For seven months, dad would spend time in and out of the hospital, rehab, and home, where he most wanted to be, with full time care, which he most definitely did not want, but needed. He was in excruciating pain most of the time.
We all thought dad would get better. He was determined. More determined than I would have thought in light of Jane’s absence and Dad’s strong faith that held the promise of heaven. At times, he did get better. But there were setbacks and far too often when there were a range of health possibilities, dad would find out he had the worst case scenario. It was hard to keep going, hard to hope for the best, when Dad kept hearing bad news. In the face of all this, Dad was pretty positive. Though from time to time, he would grow weary. One of the last of many conversations went like this, “ You know, Lee, I just don’t know if this is worth it. This is a heck of a way to live.” I responded, actually sounding a little like dad myself, “Well, Dad, here’s the good news…and the bad news, you don’t get to choose.” “I suppose you’re right,” laughed Dad.
So here I am today. I’m thinking of Dad. I’m relieved that the grief is a little lighter. For a while there, it felt like there was an ominous black presence around me. I felt a little like I was wearing grief like a heavy cloak. Tears, memories, musings would come easily. Sometimes I would just lie on the floor wailing in the great emptiness, the great loss of dad. I miss being able to call him, to visit, to have dinner together.
I miss his wisdom, his humor, his knowledge, his insight. Oh how I miss his love. I miss picking up his 12-pack of coke, his Werther’s Original caramels, his everything bagel from his favorite bagel shop (I know…not exactly health food). I miss sharing a news item that I could count on him knowing about, I miss our prayer sessions together. I miss his funny voices and his silly faces.
And yet, I know, I believe that I will see him again. Somehow, some way, some day, in some mysterious form, we will share in eternity.
“I believe. Help me in my unbelief.”
I realize I’m a little mad at God for allowing death. It really is one of the most painful things in life. Deep down in my soul, I do believe there is eternity, where there is no more sorrow, no more pain. But I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. How about you?