Life After Loss: One Month

Onward & Upward

One Month.

Oh Daddy. Oh Daddy I miss you.

One month closer to seeing you again. I have to admit, I’m not always as strong as I have hoped I would be. One day I know I will be okay. I know I can do this, Dad. I know I can run my race well, I know the devil is going to pay, I know that before I know it I will be held in your strong embrace again and this is only for a while. I see glimpses of joy, real joy, and I know I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I know God’s Word is true and I can stake my life on it. I know we will be okay. And I just know I can make it.

Other days, like yesterday, I don’t think I can do it at all. I feel full of doubt, despair, hopelessness, and I feel so very lost. You were confidence, peace, protection, nurture, comfort, wisdom, friendship, a spiritual leader, the most Christlike person I’ve ever known. Without you here sometimes it feels that everything is falling apart. I don’t know how to do it all without you here. Even though we didn’t see each other for long periods of time in the last few years, I treasured how frequently we saw each other and it was a comfort to know you were in this world and if I needed you, you were there – kind of like it was a comfort going to sleep as a kid when I knew you were working in the next room. I worry about the future. There is a gray cloud over all of life now and I wonder if it will ever fully lift this side of Heaven.

I go back and forth between these two and I’m trying not to feel condemned or like I’ve lost ground on a harder day. I know God won’t change so if my emotions do from day to day, it’s okay. I have rock solid ground to come back to no matter what. Thank you for teaching me that.

I miss you so much, Dad. I miss you with my whole heart. And every time I do, I have to remind myself of where you are, and then I get excited for you. I wish I could skip all this hard stuff sometimes and just come be with you, come be with Jesus. But I know He wants me to finish my race first- I know you would want that, too. He is here in me so we are very much together and I have everything I need to run this race in victory. This is what I have to stand on.

So for now I am stuck in a season of not being able to go back ever again and not knowing how to go forward, except to cling with everything I have to God’s Word and His faithfulness. It is a season I wish I could see the end of, I wish there was a way to just hop over the parts that seem unbearable or a way to skirt around anything that looks like too much – but the only way to the other side is through it. I don’t know how long it will take. I don’t know where my foot will land in the next step. I just know I can’t sit down, I can’t let go, I must keep going forward. Feeling the pain is the only way through.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

The meals and cards and visits are mostly over. We have celebrated your life with family and friends. We have buried and scattered your ashes here in all the places that we see you still in our hearts. We have done a lot of the stuff that needs to be done and now are returning to “normal” life. It is a relief to be past facing death in the face every day but now we are facing your absence every day. Cleaning out your closet. Cleaning out your car. Going through your things. Going to special events that you were going to be at, but going without you. Enjoying these beautiful sunny days that you loved so much, but you’re not here. I know you are thrilled to be where you are and would not come back if you could but on this end, it can be brutal.

You’re everywhere, Dad. Most of the time it feels like you’re still here, your body is just gone. I believe these are the truest times. I don’t know in what capacity you are aware of us now, but I know for us, you are here, all the time. I feel you smiling beside me. I feel you’re just gone on a long trip and I can’t talk to you right now but I know I will again. This brings so much comfort. What you taught us remains, the direction you were leading us is still stretched out before us, your fingerprints are everywhere in our lives. A hundred times I day I see them. Your heart is still beating here inside your family. Your love, God’s love, is still very much here.

Other times I want to talk to you, I want to hug you, I want to hear your voice or pray with you or pick up a decaf extra hot latte for you and I realize I can’t. I never can again in this life – these moments are becoming less but my gosh they are hard. I actually bought a man a little older than you a coffee at Starbucks the other day and told him you would be sure to tell him he is seen and known and loved. It helped just a little but it also hurt because I just want to buy one more for you.

I see more than ever before that death was never part of God’s plan. It goes against everything about His heart for us and it was never His will for us to have our hearts broken like this. We can allow Him to show up in these broken places in a way that we were reluctant to let Him show up before. Don’t worry, Dad. I know God did not take you – I believe that was your choice and you chose well. I know God did not take your life or need you in Heaven more than we needed you here but I do know He is the One who is going to get us through this. And because I know Him and only because I know Him, I have to believe He can make life here even better than it was before.

God is being so faithful to us, Dad. He is walking with us every step of the way. He is showing up through people, through songs, through reminders He has placed all over creation, through His Word, through our kids, through a thousand memories full of gratitude. He is taking good care of us, Dad. He is rock solid.

I actually had it out with Him the other day and I felt a little guilty about it at first, knowing I’d surely regret accusing Him. But I thought of you, how you loved me so much and could handle any frustrations or hurt I had without me ever feeling separated from your love, and I knew then that God can handle it, too. I think He’d rather hear my real heart than hear me say what I think He wants. I thought of Job and how God reamed him out good for accusing Him but then I remembered we are under a new covenant and God looks at us through Jesus now and I knew it didn’t matter what I said or how upset I felt – God would still be looking at me with love in His eyes after I’d spilled my guts, even if I was completely off track. He would still hold me in His arms to comfort me – that’s what you would do. I knew when you were here that nothing could ever separate me from your love and God is the same. Thank you for loving me unconditionally and being such a personal picture to me of what God is like.

Thank you for filling our lives with music, Dad. Strains of guitar music floating across the land as the kids start to dance… worship songs belted out with your whole heart… fun, fast songs… making up songs with Resey as you played and sang together and you looked at her with such pride… that Thanksgiving we were sick but you brought your guitar and the family over to stand outside our window and sing to us so we wouldnt feel left out… the special songs we sang together at church when I was little… “Daddy, dontcha know? Daddy, dontcha know? I’ll always be the little girl in your heart.”

Thank you for believing in me. For the “seed money” you planted in me with the words, “I believe in you and I want you to do this.” Thank you for cheering me on, for showing up when you had a million other things to do, for being one of the first to subscribe to my blog when I didn’t even know you knew how, for always seeing me as who I was created to be – never as sick, never as defeated and hopeless, never as broken. You saw the best version of me and I think that is all you ever saw when you looked at me, whether I was hooked up to oxygen or just having an off day – you always saw the best when you looked at me. You always saw me as powerful, beautiful, capable, and whole. That is the girl you always spoke to because to you, that was the only girl there was. Thank you for seeing me that way, Dad.

Thank you for filling our lives with love, and espescially, for loving mom the way you did. I have never seen anything like it – the way you poured yourself out for her, adored her, protected and cherished her heart, always put her first… I know now what Christ loving His church must look like because I’ve seen it in the way you loved Mom. Having parents who love each other the way you and Mom did is one of the very best gifts you could have ever given us.

Thank you for filling our lives with laughter. Grape juice rings as glasses, corny old sci-fi and claymation (or stop-motion? You would explain the timelines of differences in detail) movies, robo rooster, the neckless monster, goofy voices that you were a master at, the one-eared glasses you wore for years, Feliz Navidad, and even for chuckling at me with sparkling eyes full of love in some of my most serious moments – it used to upset me but at the same time let me know that what seemed so huge maybe wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it was… Oh Dad, I love you.

I love you and I miss you in a million ways, see you in a million places. And though we are apart for now, it is only for now. Not for long.

I know you would ask if you could so I have one ready. This is the verse I’m standing on today:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful.”

Jeremiah 31:3-4

God did it for Israel under an inferior covenant than the one we have with His own Son; He will do it for us. This is the verse I’m standing on. Thank you for showing me what God’s love looks like.