Life Goes On
August 6, 2011, at 7 pm, when dad took his last breath, my friend's son's bride was walking down the aisle. That's what I remember, the cycle of life...life goes on...but it takes a while to work through. After having healthy grieving and shedding many healthy tears, I know God helped me to live life fully- like my father and my Father would want me to do! John 10: 10, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
My heart physically hurt. I knew Dad was gone the moment he took his last breath. Just like I had watched my grandmother, it looked like an empty vessel - the soul was gone. 2 Corinthians 5: 8, "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." Dad was with Jesus! That night I got a text from someone telling me they knew exactly how I felt and they had both of their parents! In the next few days I went to the grocery store and was appalled at how the world had gone on. Didn't they knew my dad had died? They were laughing and talking like nothing had happened. I dreaded church the most because we always sat together. When Dad would see me, he would smile, hug me and say, "hey, doll!" That first week someone asked me why I was crying, didn't I know he was in a better place? Another person asked me if things were back to normal - eight days later. NO! Things would never be normal again!
Every "first" was the worse! I cried and cried. I cried every Sunday when the music started. Time was my enemy because I could not fathom how I could ever really live life without my dad. For six months I stayed at Mom's every evening til ten so she would not be alone. One day God told me I could not fix this and what a revelation! Mom was going to be lonely, with or without me. My family needed me as they, too, were grieving, both Dad and Mike's mom.
I am thankful that I went through the grief stages. How did I get through this tough time? Philippians 4: 13, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Today I choose to share the blessings from that tough time. God doesn't bring us through suffering without gifts at the end. Romans 8: 28, "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." One of the gifts he gave me is to encourage others who are grieving. I don't stop praying after the funeral! I commit to the year of firsts, and any time before or after that, when the Holy Spirit brings someone to mind.
God gave us the perfect last normal day with Dad. As we did every week, Mom, Dad and I spent 9-5 at the beach. The ocean was perfect and we swam a lot. The military planes flew over which he loved. We had a gentle breeze under our umbrella as we chatted, snacked, napped and read. He had a stroke as we packed up. A week later another stroke left him paralyzed on one side and unable to talk or swallow. We had ten days to love on him and watch God answer many prayers including bringing to mind anything I needed to share with Dad, since he could not talk. As I told him, even if he had never talked, he showed me what I needed to know. I told him I would take care of Mom, raise my family in a Christian home and share Jesus with his other grandchildren. His sweet smile and tears told me how important that was. God gave us precious time. I told him I was happy for him and we would be together again. While my heart was breaking, I was thanking God for taking him home to a better place. I thank God, often, that he is not in this crazy world. I thank God that I spent so much quality time with him leaving me with no regrets. We had so much fun! It hurt so bad because it was so good!
Ten years later, our new normal brings more smiles and laughter than tears. The best gift my father gave me was to teach me about Jesus Christ. The best gift my Heavenly Father gave me was Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. John 3: 16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Dad instilled in me what I intend to hand down for generations to come. Psalm 78.4, "We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done." That is what my earthly father wanted and what my Heavenly Father wants me to do. Joel 1: 3, "Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation." We still laugh about Dad being the eternal optimist. He always said and wrote, "I never knew life would be this good! I never knew how blessed I'd be!" He was always amazed at God's faithfulness and generosity! While he lived life to the full here, I cannot imagine how amazed he is now! May I always share the wonderful things God has done for me! Ephesians 3: 21, "to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
Mom and I will celebrate Dad today through tears and laughter. And then we'll think of the couple who are celebrating their ten year anniversary. Life goes on! For those who have Jesus, life goes on for all eternity!