I’ve missed writing. I spent a lot of time in my career putting pen to paper (or in my case, words to a webpage). Writing a good piece is like a runners high, it gets your endorphins going.
I’ve found that one of life’s hardest experiences has been one of the easiest to write about. I suppose writing is therapeutic. Eighteen months ago today our lives changed forever when my dad passed away at the age of 52. What life has been like since isn’t the story we would have written. But, it’s been a reminder to trust in the ultimate Storyteller. I could ramble on about how awful it is to lose a parent, how hard it’s been to figure out new family dynamics, yadda yadda yadda. Instead, a short (err, long?) year and a half later, I’ll share this:
1. I know both great grief and incredible joy- and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Life doesn’t stop when a loved one is gone. You keep moving forward, and somewhere along the way you realize that incredible joy is still there, waiting to be felt. And when you allow it, that joy will radiate through the pain.
2. Faith is so much bigger than fear. He is a good, good Father. It’s who He is. I think it’s natural for people to question faith when they’re faced with something unfathomable. For me, I found myself more deeply rooted in God’s presence, His grace, and His purpose in my life.
3. Family Matters. We all know this. But do we all live it? As a family, J and I have had a lot of conversations over the last 18 months about what our priorities are. We’ve made different choices about how to raise our kids, where to spend money, how to celebrate special occasions, and so on. We might be a little bit more broken but, we’re also more thankful, more grateful and more content. The biggest change is how much we put family first. My kids won’t grow up hearing Popi cheering them on at baseball games. But, we will prioritize them spending their weekends with their cousins, aunts, uncles, and other grandparents. And THAT is a gift that keeps on giving.
4. You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust the sails. I saw this on a bumper sticker in the Chic-fil-a drive through about a month after dad passed. He was a sailor, and this was one of many moments I felt God’s presence in the midst of pain.
5. Sometimes, out of death comes life. A few weeks after dad’s passing, I found out I was pregnant. I was barely keeping it together, and the thought of experiencing new life while grieving the loss of another was overwhelming. Overwhelm quickly turned into peace. I knew that this child was a gift from Heaven, an opportunity to begin again. So when we found out we were expecting a boy, we decided he would be my dads namesake. And today, our sweet baby B has brought so much happiness to our lives with his easy-going personality, and his big, dimpled smile.
6. Don’t mask your emotions. I can say with confidence that the best thing I have done, and continue to do, in this grief journey is to take the time to miss my dad. At the beginning, it meant there was usually a meltdown at least once a day. Over time, it’s not as often. But when I sense that aching come to the surface, I make sure I take a few minutes to feel the pain of losing him. To talk to God about my sadness, frustration, or disappointment. I might not always have the time to stop what I’m doing to make that happen, but I always make a point to find a quiet time soon after to process. The grief is there, and it’s meant to be felt, and I encourage you to give yourself the grace you need if you find yourself in a place of grief too.
7. If we even had a glimpse of what Heaven was like, we’d never want our loved one to trade it for even a day here on Earth. As humans, we can’t even fathom the glory of Heaven. I find comfort in knowing that dad is spending his days with Jesus and that I’ll be reunited with him again one day.
8. Peace. A common statement among Christians is, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” But that’s not technically biblically sound. First Corinthians 10:13 says, “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” That means that sometimes, God will give us more than we can handle. But what if we looked at life’s hardships as opportunities not to rely on ourselves, but on God? And that is where I have found peace.
“Don’t wait to celebrate the life you’ve been given, even if it looks different from the one you thought you’d have.”
Love you, dad.