Today marks 8 years since I lost my Dad, and I hate it.
I hate everything about it.
I hate looking at the landscape of our lives and not seeing him there. I see his fingerprints all over the place, but those joyful eyes behind the paint speckled glasses? They’re nowhere to be found.
Somedays I can’t believe he’s gone and others I struggle to remember what it was like to have a Dad at all, a Dad to call with tears or mortgage questions.
I tell the kids about him sometimes, but mostly they’re too young to understand. I tell Caedmon that he has his Grandpa’s middle name and I tell Noelle that she has a nose just like her Grandma’s.
I tell them: “I had a mommy and daddy too and they’re in heaven with Jesus and they love us all very much.”
Some people may see 8 years of grieving my Father and think: “Wow, she’s still not over it?” To those people I say this: “When you lose a parent, you’re never truly over it, there is always a unfilled gap, which is okay.”
And somedays that void takes the form of a lump in my throat, sometimes it causes my eyes to tear up because I just want my Daddy. Somedays don’t we all? And on those days when I need my Dad but can’t have him I ache on a cellular level.
I want to revert back to calling his cell phone and listening to his voice mail message over and over again.
“His this is Dave, please leave a message.”
I stil remember the inflection of every word.
Somehow, shortly after he died it was put upon me to design and purchase my Dad’s headstone. I knew nothing about headstones, all I knew is that I wanted it to look as little like a headstone as possible. Nothing grey, no block letters, I just couldn’t go there.
So I selected a glossy black granite headstone, neat and close to the ground. I found a moonlight scene with loons and had it etched all over the front, my Dad’s favorite birds, tranquil and serene, the centerpiece of the whole thing.
When I ran it all by my mom, she asked me if we could etch Romans 8:28 on the back of it. I don’t remember thinking much about it at the time but the more I look back on this request, the more I see it as an absolute gift from God.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~Romans 8:28
All this? For his Glory?
A few months after my Father’s passing I remember having a rare raw and emotional talk with my Mom. On that night she told me: “I don’t believe the saying “God never gives you more than you can handle” I think he does, I think he did it to me.”
She didn’t talk about her feelings very often, she didn’t talk much at all to be honest with you, so for her to trust me with those words was powerful.
And because I was young and stupid I said something to the effect of “that’s heretical.” At that point I still thought that those words were in the Bible. They’re not, not anywhere… Go ahead and look, I’ll wait.
Now I believe those words are dangerous dribble because we so very often have more than we can handle don’t we? I’m not sure If God gives it or doesn’t prevent it, or what. I’m done trying to figure that one out for now.
Whatever God’s involvement in the arrival of our situations I do firmly cling to the words of Romans 8:28. He is working every detail for our good, and our true good always brings his glory. Every time.
So did he take my father and cause my mother to walk in front of a train? I don’t think so. I think it was the sin-sickness curse, the one we all live under. We’ve been warned from the beginning, we will suffer, we will grow sick, we will die.
It’s a guarantee and one day we will all have to come to terms with it’s awful reality. And on those days we will wonder why death happened to us. We will be angry and terrified and completely unsure how we will ever piece our world back together together.
On those days, in our anger and confusion God hurts alongside us. On those days may we cling to the knowledge that he will work it for good, he didn’t send it to our door, but he will work it for good.