One year — sometimes it feels like a lifetime, other times it feels like it’s only been a day. Either way, it’s been a year too long without him. I wish I could say that it’s gotten easier, but I think that would be a lie for all of us. There are still those days when I need to talk to him and try to call. There are still those days where it’s hard to believe that he’s actually gone. Not a day goes by that he isn’t missed deeply. Although it might not seem like it yet, this post is an update and an encouragement.
We’ve all changed. I know I have. I knew everything would, but I didn’t realize how much losing someone so influential and so a part of me would change things. I went through the greater part of the year feeling like its all on me. When things got tough or I was having a break down, I couldn’t call him. When I was excited because I graduated or because I was heading off to college, he wasn’t there. When I had a question about school or needed advice, I couldn’t ask. When all I wanted was to hear his voice in a phone call or receive one of his cheerful texts, I knew the phone wouldn’t buzz.
I didn’t want to tell anyone at college either. How do you put that on people? Even when you do, they don’t get it. They didn’t know him. They hardly knew me. They would never know him. I had this new perspective, too. I look at life completely differently now. I’ve found that having fun is difficult, even at college where it’s supposed to be the time of your life — especially at college. Many times, I found myself indifferent and apathetic. I was not satisfied or content. I never thought or imagined that mere existence would be so hard — especially with God.
Even the better moments were (and still are to some extent) bittersweet. I see how fleeting they are — moments become memories too soon. It seems like just yesterday Dad and I were going on a drive, laughing, talking, or just hanging out. While everyone else seems to live in the present, I sit back and close my eyes, trying to hold on, knowing it will be gone in moments.
So I went through my days, trudging and fighting. I knew I had blessings in my life: a wonderful roommate, great friends, support back at home (amongst many other things). I knew that compared to most people in the world, my life was (and is) pretty great. But it was hard to appreciate these things when, like I said, mere existence seemed so hard. Now I wasn’t in the depths of depression or going off the deep end. I wasn’t angry with God or turning my back on my faith — not at all. I was just in this fog, this haze. I couldn’t focus on anything. I was restless. I was so tired. Then, one day, I just said I can’t do this anymore, I cannot live life like this. Something needed to change. I realized that a lot was on me now. Part of it was that my dad wasn’t there to encourage my relationship with God. The thing is, going to Jesus was really hard. It reminded me that Dad was gone more than anything in the world. I don’t like to feel those deep, heart-wrenching emotions. To cry and cry because I miss him. No, I would much rather avoid all that — ignore it.
And then, I heard Him, His voice, gentle and prodding: Show up. I wasn’t sure if it was Him…”Show up? What does that even mean?” It wasn’t long before the meaning became apparent. I didn’t feel like I could be invested, focus, or meet God, so I wasn’t even trying. I wasn’t showing up. He was asking me to just show up every day, and He would meet me, like He always does. So I did. I showed up every day for an hour. It had been a long time since I had done that. In my weak faith and faltering trust, I didn’t really have high expectations.
To be honest, I didn’t think it was going to help. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that these things can take a lot of time. It had been a long time since I had invested in my relationship with God actively. Yet, God is so, so faithful. He knows what I need, always. Within a few days, a new contentment began to infuse my daily life as He gave me eyes to see His blessings. He told me It’s okay. That’s what I had been longing to hear. It’s okay that I’m really not okay! It’s okay that I miss him. It’s okay that I don’t have motivation. It’s okay that that I just can’t do it. It’s okay that I can’t focus on anything — that I’m restless.
So then, after a month or so, I was brought to this blog. I hadn’t read the posts yet. Dad was alway so hurt I wouldn’t read them, but I just couldn’t. Not while he was sick. Not once he was dead. It was too fresh, too hard. It brought it all back and it made me think. I didn’t like to think much anymore. So the first time I read it, I was a wreck. I couldn’t get through the first one because endless tears would pour out. So I waited and went back to it a week later. It was a little better then. And so I worked through his posts in this fashion. It’s funny because I feel like I’m still getting to know him. I re-read the posts over and over and learn more every time. He teaches me about Jesus — about His love for me and about the kind of love I want to have for Him.
So God has been there the whole time, walking beside me, and He began to reveal this reality to me at a heart level. He says blessed are the grieving, for I shall bring them comfort, and He is faithful. I just had to BE there to receive that comfort. My time with God was completely different now…but that’s another story. He told me everything I needed to hear, even when it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. But I think one of the greatest things He showed me was that my dad’s death and his sickness were not about me. It wasn’t even about him. I cannot begin to verbalize how freeing that was. I didn’t have to be scared to tell people or scared about whether or not they would understand because that wasn’t the point. While reading my dad’s blog, I began to realize that this was his legacy. He didn’t die too soon. He died in God’s perfect timing, and for once I can say: It’s okay. That sounds harsh. It doesn’t make it hurt less, not at all. But it’s an important truth. It’s one my dad would have wanted me to voice. It’s okay. It’s okay because this isn’t it. It’s okay because there is so, so much more. It’s okay because life is about more than times of comfort and times of suffering. I guess what I realized is that at the end of the day, having my dad back would make things a lot easier, but having him wasn’t what has ever made me okay. No, it’s only Jesus. It’s always Jesus. What’s beautiful is that that is something God used my dad to teach me — not just with his life, but through his death.
I won’t ever stop missing him. I know it won’t ever be easy to live life without him. I know that’s something anyone can relate to who has lost someone they love. I know there will still be days when I am a complete mess. There will still be moments where I will lose all clarity and truth. This blog post wasn’t supposed to be so much about my own experience as about how much this blog has blessed me these past few months. Hope was redefined for me on an experiential level in the past year — I’ve found that Jesus can fill my heart even when it aches, even when it’s breaking. I am overcome.