I went for a walk last night. Having just read a post by someone I know, I felt anger and frustration. The emotions were overwhelming me to the point where I wanted to cry.
I needed to clear my head.
When I walk, I’ll listen to music or preaching, or I just pray. This time, I was listening to a preacher’s sermon, but I didn’t hear a single word. The internal gymnastics happening in my head silenced all external noise.
I wanted to respond to this person, so I was drawing up my response while I walked. As I kept walking, I began to be overwhelmed with sorrow. At first, I was feeling sorrow for the state of the Christian church.
Then, it hit me.
I didn’t want tomorrow to come.
One year ago today, my father died.
It came on suddenly. The voice of my brother on March 29th is seared in my mind. ‘You need to get here,’ or something like that. I made a last-minute trip to Arizona on March 30, 2021, to say goodbye.
There was no service. No memorial. Not even a newspaper or web announcement. That was my dad’s way. No fuss.
Over the past 12 months, there have been a lot of emotions to sort through because ours was a complicated relationship. Grief? Yes, but not for the reasons you might think.
Loss. I grieve the loss of my father, but I also grieve for all of the things I never got to experience with him. The strain in our relationship meant he wasn’t very much a part of my life. I didn’t get my dad’s time.
The key moments of a girl’s life that a father should be present for, he wasn’t there. I’ve grieved for the things I didn’t get. And yet, in 2008, my father gave me something that I will always treasure.
He gave me his time.
After my walk, I was on the verge of tears. Were they tears about the post I just read? No. I didn’t want tomorrow to come. Wednesday, March 30? Can we just skip it and go to March 31?
I sat down at my computer and popped a CD in my PC. Yes, I still do that. And yes, I know that probably makes me old to some, but I needed to hear my dad’s voice.
In 2008, he drove up to Spokane, Washington from Phoenix, Arizona, to see me. I didn’t know my dad very well, but this was a rare opportunity to get to know him. Me being the inquisitive person that I am, I decided I was going to get to know him on this trip. I wanted my kids to be able to know him.
If he was going to be here, I decided I wanted him to write about his life. He liked to write, so why not take advantage of the opportunity? As he did that, I also decided I wanted to record a conversation with him.
Hours of conversations were on my recorder. My husband, the best sound engineer around, put it on a CD. So I put that CD in when I got home and just sat there listening to his voice.
No tears flowed. A few laughs and smiles came out, but no tears. I marveled as I listened not only to Dad but myself too. Respectful but determined, I was able to get some answers to questions I held on to for so long.
I needed that reminder of who he was as a person, as a man.
He wasn’t perfect, even if he thought he was — I just listened to him, so yeah, he thought highly of himself to a degree. At times, I know I have thought highly of myself too. Haven’t we all?
But, he was my dad.
Pain causes us to do some pretty strange or stupid things. Pain causes us to move to protective or defensive mode. Unresolved pain can take us down a road that leads to bitterness and missed opportunities.
It took me a long time to forgive my dad. Forgiveness, after all, is a process. As I said in my post after he died, No More Prayers to Pray, “If I had not walked it (forgiveness process) out, there is no way I would have been there for my dad’s last breath.”
My dad missed out on a lot of my life. I missed out on having my dad in my life. But, for a moment many years ago, we were just a dad and his daughter. Talking, laughing…getting to know each other.
God reminded me to listen to my dad’s voice last night. He wanted me to remember that I didn’t just have his deathbed as the one and only moment with my dad. I had that time so many years ago where I was important. I mattered to my dad enough for him to visit me.
On the anniversary of his death, I again marvel at God’s handiwork. Not only did God give me that moment at Dad’s death, but He made that moment back in 2008. I can listen to my dad’s voice whenever I want. It helps me to remember that I mattered.
Isn’t that what we all want? We all want to matter to someone, to anyone. We want to know that what we think and feel matters. Even if we are rejected by those we love and/or trust, we still have that innate need for value. My dad gave me value in 2008 and one year ago today.
My dad would probably roll his eyes at some of the posts that cause a reaction in me. Not so much at what the people post but at me for reacting. He’d probably say, “So what! What they said doesn’t add any value to your life.”
Yeah, that was dad. That’s not exactly my way of looking at things, but, for better or worse, that was my dad.
Tomorrow is here.
Thank you, God, for the moment.
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