I’m sitting in the darkened room of my mom’s new condo. Her lovely, airy, just-the-right-size condo where she lives ALONE, without my dad. How is it possible that a year has passed already since we said goodbye to one of the most godly, energetic, full-of-life men that I have ever known? A year? A year of tears, sadness, changes, laughter, new memories, birthdays, holidays, old and new traditions. At every turn there exists both bitter loss and, at the same time, the peace and comfort that can only be found in God’s incredible care.
“I haven’t been bored since the third grade,” Dad used to say, a book (or two) in hand, a project (or two) in the works, and a place (or two) to go.
“What happened in the third grade?” I asked my mom this week, my heart full of an odd mingled joy and sadness, glad to be together with my family in Michigan but hating the reason for our celebration.
Mom’s eyes slid to the bookshelves adorning the wall in the upstairs bedroom, and she laughed, “It’s probably when he discovered the school library.”
Oh my, that must be it! I can think of dozens of pictures, snapshots on the computer and faded slides in boxes, and hundreds of images, vivid memories, that include my father with a book in his hand.
My high school honors program, yep a book and magazine article tucked in his jacket pocket.
Visiting people at the hospital – Bible in one hand and a book in the other.
The pool, beach or park – there wasn’t a single outing where Dad would venture without one or more books, usually a small tote bag full of reading material with him.
My dad possessed a passion for learning and a library of thousands of books. He could never resist a book sale and was constantly bringing home bags of “treasures” he found at the library sale racks. I truly believe he intended to read ALL of the books on his shelves, if only he could find the time in his incredibly busy, full life.
I remember the distressed sound in his voice when we spoke over the phone while he was in the hospital, “Kath, I can’t seem to concentrate on my book. I can’t even read one of the westerns.”
Are there books in heaven?
A year since we last held his hand, kissed his cheek and said farewell.
I miss you. Your smile reached down to the deep, scared places of my heart. That smile radiated, loud and clearly, “You are my daughter, and I love you.”
Thank you for instilling in me a curiosity and craving for knowledge. Thank you for teaching and learning and modeling a hunger and thirst for the Lord. Thank you for loving my children. My soul hurts for their loss as much as my own.
Sometimes it feels like we can’t go on without you. I can’t remember a time when you and Mom were apart for more than three days. There is an emptiness, by her side, where you should be standing.
I dreamt last month that we were all together. In the dream I kept wondering, “Where were you during that long year when Mom sold the house and moved? Why weren’t you with her? Where did you go?” But the separation was over and you smiled, and I knew I was loved.
I woke up and realized you were gone, and I sobbed and sobbed.
In the quiet moments, later in the day, I realized that dream was a gift; it was a little glimpse of heaven. Eventually we will all be together again. We will no longer ache with loss and sadness. We will be whole and complete, and we will all smile in the radiance of Christ’s glory and presence.
I love you,