Father's Day is coming... and for the first time this year I have no father to wrap my arms around and thank for being such an awesome Dad. All I have is this empty place in my heart that his smile and his gentle ways of loving me used to fill.
I couldn't even make it through the first sentence of that card on Sunday (sorry, Betty!), as I knew if I read one more word of it I would turn into a puddle on the floor. It's still sitting in my Bible, waiting for me to open it, to read it, to face it. I simply don't have the energy needed to deal with the grief I know is waiting for me just around the corner. I don't know how I'm going to make it through the rest of this week, with the realization that at the end of it I will be falling headfirst into the one day a year which reminds me, with no apology, that I am without a father. That my siblings are without a father. That we don't have our Dad here to celebrate.
A couple days ago my 22 month old daughter looked at my computer screen where there was a picture of my Dad, pointed her chubby little finger at it, and simply said, "Papa". It broke my heart. It took me a minute to recover my composure and force a couple deep breaths before I could answer her back, "Yes, honey, that's your Papa". I was so moved, and so grateful that three months after his death she still knew who he was. I was blown away that in the short time she knew him he had made that much of an impact on her tender, impressionable little heart. All I could think of was how thankful I was that she had been given the opportunity to know his love, to feel his love, and I prayed with all that was within me for God to grant her the ability to remember his love, and to somehow be shaped by the fleeting few months she had in his presence. I prayed that his goodness and compassion would have the chance to be rooted deep within her, as it has had the chance to be rooted within me and the rest of his children and grandchildren.
After these thoughts of Eliza's and his relationship passed, my mind immediately turned to the child inside me who will never have the opportunity to know his or her Papa. With the first glimpse of that reality I felt my brain literally shut down and my heart go numb. The pain was too great for me to bear. I cannot go there, the sorrow is of a capacity I am unequipped to handle. I will be forced to face that darkness later, I can't do it today.
And now, as I sit here, I can't help but be brought back to last year's Father's Day, when my family gathered together to celebrate my Dad's life. We presented him with a bound book compiled of all the words from his Caring Page website, which documented his journey since the day he was diagnosed with cancer. It included within it's covers all the journal entries, all the guestbook messages, and a personal letter from each of his five children. We spent the evening rejoicing over his hard-earned status as a survivor, marveling at how he had beat the odds, and recounting all he had taught us throughout his battle. It was a good day. He had tears in his eyes as he paged through his gift, reliving again the moments that had brought him to that minute, and we had tears in our eyes as we watched him. That moment was so much bigger than us. Looking back it seems even bigger still.
This Sunday will be difficult. I am fortunate that I share my life with another amazing father, my husband Jason, who deserves every ounce of recognition this day offers for the job he does with our daughters everyday. I am going to try my hardest not to take anything away from this day for him, because he has earned the honor of knowing that he is loved, and respected, and appreciated as well. But I am also fortunate that Jason will not begrudge me the sadness this day will have hovering around it's edges. He knew my father well, and he loved him deeply. This Father's Day he, too, will be mourning the loss of a father figure in his life. As will my sisters, and my brother, and all of their spouses. My father always said that the thing he took the most pride in, the greatest gift ever given him was having ten wonderful children who loved the Lord. Come Sunday every single one of us will be feeling the void his absence has left us.
We miss you, Dad. You are loved and remembered every day.
Dear Lord in heaven,
I pray this day not knowing what to pray. I am so sad, and dreading Sunday, when I know that the grief I feel now will be magnified infinitely, and felt in the very depths of my soul.It's days like these, Lord, where I can't help but ask You why he's not here. I wonder if You forgot how much we needed him here, and if You underestimated the anguish His death would cause us every day of our lives.
But at the end of these thoughts I still will choose to trust You, because the alternative is unthinkable. Though this pain is hard to bear, I will trust that You took him home for a reason. Someday we'll have the answers, Lord, we all find peace in that.
Please be with me and my Dad's other nine children this week. Give us the tools necessary to cope with this first Father's Day without him. Help us to grieve in a healthy way. Help us not be too overcome by his loss but instead comforted knowing that he's spending this day with You, his own Father. Let us see a glimpse of his day with You, and a glimpse of our own future where every day is Father's Day.
We miss him so much, Lord. Please rain down upon us your comfort and peace in these next few days as his loss will be in the forefront of our minds. Help us find solace in each other, in our memories, in our knowledge of where he is, and in You.
Thank You, for the gift that he was to our lives. Thank You for his love for You, and his passion for passing that love down to his children. Thank You for giving him an endless capacity of love, and kindness, and compassion for each one of us. Thank You for blessing our lives with his own. There was no greater father to be had by us all.
Thank You, Father, for the father you made him to be. We are all grateful for Your relationship with him, and will carry with us the rewards of it for the rest of our days.
In Your Name I pray,