This time last year, I was calling my folks to give updates on our USSSA 12U World Series experience. We were in Orlando with our daughter's travel ball team having a great time with friends and watching softball. I was missing pre-planning which was weird for me...I've NEVER missed pre-planning but I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to "catch up" that first week of school. However, not being at school and starting back the same day as the kids...it just felt weird...not at all normal. From day 1 of the 2012-2013 school year, I felt off kilter - not quite right - out of sorts. Little did I know at the time that this feeling was a foreshadowing of things to come. I was getting ready to receive a curve ball that would change the course of my life. In September, my Dad shared the news with me that he'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer and had been given a Gleeson score of 8 (which in most cases indicates that the chance the cancer has spread is greater). To say the least, I was floored! After hanging up the phone, I got in my van and drove and yelled/screamed at God. "WHY?! WHY?! WHY?! HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN, LORD? MY DAD HAS LOVED AND SERVED YOU FAITHFULLY! IS THIS HOW YOU SHOW YOUR LOVE TO YOUR FAITHFUL SERVANTS? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!!" I was angry, confused and very scared!
Typically, I talked to my parents several times a day, but after that September afternoon, without realizing it I had stopped talking to them as frequently. I was afraid I'd say something that would "mess up" Dad's healing or speak negativity and I didn't want to do that. After a lengthy and tearful conversation with my Dad, I went back to the normal communication routine but something was different in me. I felt a shift from being fearful to being faithful. I found every scripture I could related to healing, faith, trust and blessings and posted them everywhere so that I could speak healing over my Dad and speak faith words all the time. And then, the unthinkable happened and my world came crashing down. My Dad died in spite of trusting and believing and I was left in a mournful heap ashes. Where was I supposed to go from here...what was I supposed to do or believe now?
I still struggle everyday with why and how this happened. I also ask myself if perhaps my prayers weren't right or my faith wasn't deep enough or I didn't trust enough. I think, perhaps I'll always have those questions but as I move along this journey, I'm beginning to understand that letting go of the way we were doesn't mean forgetting...nope, it means letting go of the "old normal" to make room for the "new normal". I'm not forgetting my Dad or his love for me or the fun we had together. I could NEVER forget - it is embedded in my heart for all time. No, I think letting go is just the opposite because by striving to carve out my "new normal" I'm honoring his life and legacy. I think in letting go we are better able to hang on (sounds crazy, right?)...hang on to our past without allowing it to press us down. Letting go provides renewed strength to help us hang on to our present so that I/we can live in the moment. I know that Dad would want me to move forward in faith - "letting go of what is past and straining forward to what lies ahead" (Phil 3:12-14 paraphrased). I think the word "straining" describes perfectly where I am right now. I'm straining to get through this- to get where the Lord wants me so that I can be who the Lord wants me to be. It will continue to be a "strain" for me to move through the rest of my days on earth without my Dad's physical presence. He was a HUGE part of my life and the lives of my children and the void in my heart, I think, will remain until I see him again in Heaven. I know that there are still many difficult days ahead and as we get closer to the anniversary of his death...well, I'm already dreading that and wondering what that day will look and feel like.
I miss my Daddy every single day. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him several times throughout the day. People tell me that gradually, that will change...but I don't want that to change. I want to hold him close in my thoughts and in my heart...ALWAYS. I wish that I could talk to him...wrap my arms around his chest and squeeze him tight (I'm too short to put my arms around his neck) - he did give the best hugs. I wish I could see that warm, friendly smile in the flesh or hear that boisterous infectious guffaw of his just once more in person.
My sweet friend, Lisa Johnson, shared this song with me. If my Dad had been a songwriter...I think he'd have written this for me for such a time as this. I've only been able to listen to it a couple of times but it's a haunting melody with a beautiful message of hope.
Dad I'll see you someday " away down the river" but until then...I LOVE YA ALL THE WAY TO HEAVEN...FOR ALWAYS!!!