It has been 18 months since I heard my father’s voice. 18 months since he yelled at sports on television. Eighteen months since he drew his last breath. Eighteen months since I have let myself feel the pain of that loss. I was a daddy’s girl my whole life up until that point, and I don’t know how to behave now that there is no Daddy to be a girl to.
I never for once thought that my parents would live forever, but when those knowledges become reality that you are all-of-a-sudden facing down the barrel of, the proverbial sh*t gets real. And it gets real fast. A year-and-a-half ago, my family was told that my dad, my hero was going to die from a cancer they had just discovered. Three weeks after that day, he was gone. Dad, who had never been sick a day in his life, was taken away three weeks after finding out he was sick. Three weeks.
Telling my children was hard. Papa was their hero too. From the moment the news came in, the praying intensified. We prayed for the nurse and doctors in charge of his care. We prayed for Nanny to be strong in the face of illness. We prayed for us to be a good support for them. Most of all, we prayed for Papa to get better. Even though I knew what was coming, the thought that ‘getting better’ would mean death was not on our radar.
But that was the outcome. For Papa to be better, meaning pain and cancer free, he had to die. It was untreatable. Incurable. The doctors did not know where to start looking to find the cause. The cancer was everywhere. Death was the only outcome.
I recall a moment in time when I was sitting at dad’s bedside in the hospital, and being overcome – a heart attack of grief. As I started sobbing, I felt a warmth surround me, like a blanket. I heard an audible voice say to me ‘Don’t worry. He’s right here beside me.’ And then I felt peace. The kind of peace that comes from reaching out to others to pray. In that moment, I felt them. Every. Single. Prayer.
My dad introduced me to God. He told stories about when he had absolutely nothing, God showed up. He never pushed me to believe, but he always let me know that God was always there for him. It took me until that day in the hospital to feel how he felt when God heals our brokenness. It was that day that I understood that for Dad, healing meant death.
Their souls will be completely satisfied. And neither the sun nor any scorching heat will affect them. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne continuously shepherds them unto life – guiding them to the everlasting fountains of the water of life. And God will wipe from their eyes every last tear! Revelation 7:16-17, TPT
When I went home to tell my children, we read through the descriptions of Heaven in Revelations and settled on these two verses: “Their souls will be completely satisfied. And neither the sun nor any scorching heat will affect them. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne continuously shepherds them unto life – guiding them to the everlasting fountains of the water of life. And God will wipe from their eyes every last tear!”
No more pain. No more sickness. No more sadness. Everlasting life.
Last week, I opened up a bag of Dad’s old shirts. I never thought anything at first, but when I took a breath in, he was there. For the first time in 18 months, I was with my dad. At first, the sorrow was like a dagger, but I also felt someone else: my Heavenly Father holding me too, allowing me to release the pain of grief in that moment, and then guiding me to hold on to the memories that the moment brought along.
The grief and sorrow of losing my dad will never go away. They will always be a part of my life. My life will eventually grow around the outside of the hole made that day a year and a half ago. I will always have times when something brings me back to my dad. But he won’t be there alone. God will come with him and help me along to a more peaceful release of sorrow.