Saturday, September 17, 2016

Dear Dad (One Month Later)

Dear Dad, 

Today is the one month mark since you’ve been gone. I have been attempting to prepare for this day for a whole week. Dreading it is the more appropriate word. When I woke up Thursday morning, having dreamt of you and feeling rested and relaxed, the world became a crushing weight as full consciousness reminded me you weren’t here. My grief over your death is still so fresh. It dwells at the surface. From here on out, to say that you’ve been gone for more than a month feels like I've lost some nearness to you.
I am still learning how to say goodbye to you. It’s a process; a lesson to learn. I figure you could have talked me through something like this with great wisdom had you still been here.

One month. 31 days that have lingered swiftly. Drudged on rapidly. Like they last forever, but are over too quickly. Not one of those days has gone by without thoughts of you. So many thoughts of you. 

One month ago I heard your voice for the last time. Weak as it was, I heard you, Dad. You love me. I carry that certain truth with me now and it brings me comfort. But oh, how I long to hear your voice again. To hear the jangle of the phone and answer it to find you on the other end. Most of the time 400 miles separated us, and the sound of your voice was the embodiment of your presence and influence in my life. Yes, I want to hear your voice.

I wish Minnie could have spent her 60th birthday in her classroom for a family party like you had planned, not in the funeral home making arrangements. She did really well though, Dad. She misses you something fierce, but she is taking one step at a time. 

I wish you could have experienced all the love being offered at your funeral visitation. Lines of students, parents, coworkers, life group members; all present to honor you. With tears in their eyes, they would recount stories of the difference you had made. Do you hear that, Dad? All the moments you spent questioning your investment and the trajectory of your life…it all mattered. I imagine you must have realized that fact in grand measure when you entered heaven, but it was a sight to see on earth too.

I wish you could have seen Paul. He fulfilled your request to officiate your funeral. You would have been so proud of him. I certainly was.

I wish you could see the way Justin is supporting his mom in her grief. He’s helping to make sure all the details of life are understood for Minnie.

I wish you could have heard my words at the funeral. It’s what you asked of me - to speak on the topic of reunion. Had it been up to me I would have stayed in the pew silent, but only you could have persuaded your ordained daughter to give the funeral sermon from the pulpit of a Southern Baptist church. Paul and I figure you would share an ironic laugh with us about that one.

I wish you could have been sitting at the funeral service when “Pancho and Lefty” began to play in Valley View’s sanctuary. I still don’t know why you wanted that song, but in a strange way it gave me strength in a hard moment. It was just so you and it was like a gift you gave us. Thanks for that.

I wish you could have hugged your grandkids in the moments when the grief has gotten to them over this last month. Alex was there, Dad. He helped Minnie pick out your tie, he sat in the background of the funeral not wanting to draw attention, but he was present. Eliana finished the book you gave her for Christmas and was able to whisper to you what she liked best, just like you wanted. Johanna buried her head in April’s side as she shed tears. Levi said he would sell all his Legos to have you back. Moriah sat with me at midnight and missed washing dishes with you. Sweet Brandyn stood at your casket saying he loved you. And “little” Mackenzie; she took it all in stride, keeping track of all that was happening. It would have made you smile.

I wish I could have kept you up to date on all that  has been happening with our family here in Flint. So many decisions, changes, transitions. You have always been one of my biggest fans - loving, supporting, and praying for me. I really need that right now.

I think to the future and all the coming moments that I will be missing you. Like next week when Eliana will turn 12 and there won’t be a call from you. Like next month when it will be one year since we explored Washington D.C. with you. I am forever grateful for those precious moments. Like the 17th of every month. Like the first Thanksgiving and Christmas without you. Like when I won’t need to buy you a 65th birthday present in January. Or maybe I will anyway. So many moments I will miss you, and I will cry, and I will learn a little more about to say goodbye.

Dad, I guess all of these words just boil down to one simple truth…I love you. It sounds so trite and so expected, but in all the world there are no better words to sum up everything else I feel. My life is better because of you. And I miss you terribly, and have been for a month. But nothing will ever change how much I love you. 

Always and forever, 
Your little girl

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