Letting Go

Letting go of the life we always wanted. Letting go of the people we love. Letting go of expectations or desires. It’s one of the hardest things to go through.

My first child is going to kindergarten today.

This struggle is different than others. It’s not caused by anxiety of the unknown – as many struggles are, but rather the heartbreak of losing my child little-by-little. A part of my heart will be walking around at school.

Continue reading “Letting Go”

The Undefined Answer

The end of this past week was amazing, but full of emotions, worry and uncertainty.

Four days ago marked the first anniversary since my dad’s death. We spent the day with my mom and my sister and three nephews, who were visiting from out of the country. There was sad reminiscing of the events a year ago, but it was also filled with smiles and laughter and wonderful memories. God’s grace held us and grace carried us throughout the day.

Thank you for the outpouring of prayers and encouragement! It was certainly a clear demonstration of God’s love and grace.

I often look back wondering if my dad was aware he was nearing the end; if somehow he knew he’d soon be at heaven’s gate, soon to see Jesus face-to-face. A friend shared the words to this hymn:

But just think of stepping on shore and finding it heaven;
Of touching a hand and finding it God’s;
Of breathing new air and finding it celestial;
Of waking up in glory and finding it home! (Finally Home)

Can you imagine?! As your eyes open to glory, your mouth struggling to find words to describe the astounding beauty they behold and the only response you can muster is a silent awe. And then you glance up into the radiant, majestic face of your beloved Master as He says, “Welcome home, child.” Of course, I’m totally using human expressions, but it gives great comfort to know believers do have an incredibly amazing future ahead of us and to our loved ones who share our faith!

Three days ago, I had a hysteroscopy and biopsy of my uterus.  Or so I was scheduled. Continue reading “The Undefined Answer”

One Year

When you hear “one year anniversary” it typically signifies a positive accomplishment and therefore causes a celebratory feeling. But for some of us, it brings only heartache as we are forced to relive certain events we’d rather have never experienced. And it further confirms there was an end to a love we never wanted to be without.

Exactly one year ago today – April 20, 2016 – we watched my dad struggle to take his last breaths until there were no more. God called him home.

The movie reel in my head plays freshly as if it happened just yesterday: the messy emotions, the finality, the extreme sadness of his departure, the darkness of death, the disbelief and shock as if I were walking in a dream world, the immediate perspective change. I hesitated to leave the hospital, as if I was leaving him behind. It was very unsettling, as my heart and mind argued that he was truly gone. I remember pumping gas right after leaving the hospital and thinking how meaningless it felt in comparison to the death I just witnessed. I don’t have time for this, I thought. I remember feeling the urgency to just run, to escape, to hide. Somewhere, anywhere. Perhaps to a place no one knew me. I remember feeling marked, as if I carried a sign that read “I just lost my dad” around my neck. And yet still I wanted to tell someone, anyone who might care.

But still, amidst all these emotions, there was peace. I had no uncertainty my dad had stepped into the presence of Jesus. Heaven never felt more real. In fact, more than ever I wanted to be there too. (A week or so before his death, I told him I was a little jealous that he may see Jesus soon. He smiled and said, “I bet.”)

God’s grace, it never depleted. It picked me up and carried me over the next few days, weeks and months. It was also seen through the love of others who poured out their kindness and generosity on our family.

On March 22nd (just a few weeks ago) I wrote, “If you were to ask me what my current feelings are at one year, I would have to say: sadness (always!) with tiny splashes of anger and acceptance here and there. Within that array of emotions there is no longer room for shock.  I suppose my mind has finally accepted the reality of his death, but my heart isn’t quite sure.” However, I cannot say I’m in that place now. Tomorrow I’m having a biopsy of my uterus to see if it’s cancerous and this has caused a re-experiencing of sorts and a complete overload of emotions. To survive this overload, I’ve put myself into a protective state – not allowing myself to think or feel too deeply, at least until I find out the results in a few weeks. On the surface, I may appear fine, but I need to hold it together because if I expose any emotions then all of me will fall apart.

On January 13, 2016 – five weeks before my dad was taken to the emergency room – I wrote this in my journal: Continue reading “One Year”

I Surrender All

Can you imagine the last hymn you sing in church is I Surrender All?

All to Jesus I surrender; Humbly at His feet I bow.
Worldly pleasures all forsaken; Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender; Lord, I give myself to Thee.
Fill me with Thy love and power; Let Thy blessing fall on me.
All to Thee, my blessed Savior – I surrender all.

Can you imagine this being put to the test in the next – and last – thirty days of your life? Continue reading “I Surrender All”

Birthday Letter

Today would have been my dad’s 66th birthday. Instead, it’s his first birthday in heaven, even though we are the only ones who see it that way as birthdays are earthly celebrations.

Last year I didn’t talk to my dad. First ever. Not because I didn’t think of him – I did throughout the whole day – and not because I didn’t want to call him. He worked all day and I had a rather eventful day.  Before I knew it, the day was over. (I did call him the next morning at least.)  But his last birthday I didn’t even wish him a happy day, or tell him how much I loved and appreciated him. It does bother me.

Standing on this side of the fence, let me encourage you: Don’t choose not to call someone. Don’t put off the phone call or the time spent with your loved one. You never know when it’s your last phone call, their last birthday, last holiday or simply your last day with them.

If I could talk to my dad today, what would I say? The first things that come to mind seem so generic and almost redundant. “Dad, I love you more than you’ll ever know. I miss you so much.” And I quickly add in a whisper, “Please come back!”

But what I’d like to ask is: Continue reading “Birthday Letter”

Looking Ahead

On April 20, 2017, I will be able to check off a completed first year of grief.

If there was a scoreboard, I would have totally lost this fight. Grief won substantially.

I cannot believe it will be a year!  It does not seem possible.  The month he was in the hospital seemed to drag as we hung on each day’s development.

With the first year soon to tuck under my belt, society tells me this clearly signifies the end of a period. Because – as with all things – it dictates a time constraint.  As I seamlessly slip into the beginning of the second year without my dad, I should be beyond the heartache and beyond the sadness. Although those moments certainly do exist, I am nowhere near being past all the pain. Acquaintances can quickly transition into the acceptance and peace stage of one’s death, but those of us who were closely touched by a life cannot so easily dismiss the loss. Their forever absence leaves an empty hole that can never again be filled.

I appreciate my memories so much more as I’m beginning to realize how vulnerable they are. Right now, I still remember everything about him because they are still fresh, but in time I fear they will start to fade into a distant foggy recollection where they will remain. Harder and harder they will be to pull into my conscious mind. The memories are waiting only for time to send them away until they are but a dream. The sound of his voice, the one-of-a-kind bear hugs, his always-biblical and didn’t-beat-around-the-bush advice, his laugh, the love only a daddy can give, and if I’m honest, even the ones from the hospital and his last days.  I cling to them all, joyful or unpleasant.

Time has allowed reality to declare I’m no longer able to talk to or see my dad.  It used to be an instinctive thought to share with him my experience or joy or problem. But I no longer expect to see him at my mom’s house or anticipate his voice on the other end of the phone.  I no longer think about calling him to talk at four in the morning as I did in years past.

The first year certainly has established a new normal; one I’m not sure I want to embrace. But I must continue on.

Even now, I don’t always allow myself to think too deeply.  He comes to mind and I just push it away.  The confirmation of this was at the doctors’ office last week.  Continue reading “Looking Ahead”