I keep waiting for you to help me deal with everything. Your death. All of the death. I keep waiting for a giant hug and some words of wisdom. I keep waiting for reassurance that everything will be okay.
You kind of always assume that your parents will die before you. Or at least that they are “supposed” to. But my life doesn’t make sense without you here. You were a rock. A foundation. A constant. You know how people tell you to focus on the horizon when you are seasick? You were my horizon.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for a million things. I think we’re all still in shock, Daddy.
Here is what I am most sorry for. I am sorry that I have leaned on you the way you taught me to lean on Jesus. I am sorry that all those lectures and pep talks about faith and trust in God and His sovereignty made me put you on a pedestal the way I should have elevated Christ.
Help me to build a throne for Christ the way you taught me.
Is it any wonder that you and God are linked so strongly in my heart? We call God our father because of the connection and love and dependence we feel for our earthly fathers. Because of the unquestioning trust and security and hope.
Because you were such an incredible earthly father, my understanding and love for God is that much more huge. It is because of you that I could fall in love with God the father and cling to Him in times of trouble. It’s because of your protection, provision and care that I understand how to feel about God’s love.
When I remember you, you are all warm hands, big gut and scruffly chin. I see salt and pepper hair and the scar on your neck from your childhood surgery. I remember being tucked up under your arm with my arms around your belly and my ear against your chest. I see you laughing with your mouth open and your head thrown back with no noise coming out of your mouth. Crinkled eyes and shaking belly.
More than anything, I remember your voice and your warmth. I miss these things the most because I cannot get these from looking at a photo.
Bo told me once that your death was so sad to him because he woke up in the morning and you were gone. He had plans to watch monster movies with you. I feel like that too. I had plans with you. Visions of seeing you play with my children. Visions of making fun of you as an old man. Visions of shared moments, hugs, advice and good-natured teasing. And I am angry and disappointed that my plans have been spoiled. More than that, I am coping by not wanting to make plans with anyone else for fear I will be disappointed again.
You have been everywhere lately. Bo chose fish sticks for dinner. There was a ridiculous commercial on TV that used a slightly changed version of “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by the Gap Band. Bo asked to watch Flight of Dragons this evening. I walked by the fridge today and saw the picture of you wearing the Big Bad Wolf mask. The kids requested Papa stories for their bedtime stories. I told them about the time you rolled down the hill in elementary school and scared your teacher by busting open your surgical wound. I told them about your neighbor’s baboons and your pet monkey and your potty trained cat.
I even had a conversation with 9 month old Joe this morning about you.
Me: Who loves you, Joey O?
Me: Nana?! Okay, but who loves you the most?
Me: Yup. Papa loves you. How about Mama?
Joe: <shakes his head and screams like a banshee>
When I was a little girl, you smelled like Old Spice. As I got older, you smelled like well…like you. Do you remember when you would accidentally wear mom’s jeans and how mad she would get? Or when you drove me twelve hours to Maine and then turned around and drove home with nothing more than a potty break? Or when you took me and Jack on a tour of Shenandoah and we almost got the car stuck looking for the last house you lived in?
Oh, Daddy. Help me to cling to the faith you’ve grown in me. Help me to hold on and trust the God you taught me about. That brings me to what I am most sorry for – sorry that I am totally not handling this the way you would have taught me to. Sorry that I am struggling with this. I miss you.
And I am mad that you didn’t go see a doctor sooner. You felt bad for hours before you died. Now I am paranoid that my body is trying to tell me something is wrong with me too. And I am sorry, but I blame you for that.
Ugh. I am writing this because I miss talking to you. I miss seeing you and just talking and talking and talking until neither one of us is really paying attention anymore. I miss arguing with you over nothing and then laughing when your rebuttals fail to make logical sense. I miss watching that belly jiggle when you laugh.
Where losing my brother, my baby, and my sister really beat up my heart, losing you has crushed it. It still works, but I am working hard to put it back together so that it could beat without these stabbing pains. I know I have to choose another foundation and I am going to try to make that horizon the immutable, omnipotent, holy God – with no other distractions.
So, thank you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to shift my focus from that which is earthly to that which is supernatural. I pray I can make you proud.
Love you, Daddy.