On October 5, 2016, I received news that no one wants.
My father, after a long battle with ALS, went on to receive his eternal reward in heaven.
In the days following October 5, 2016, I went through a whirlwind of emotion as my family and I went through dad’s belongings, attempting to pick out what we’d set out at the funeral. We also had to plan that service. Looking back one year later, I don’t remember much about the details. I just remember specific events and instances.
I vividly remember going through my dad’s truck to find things to put out at the funeral. I saw his coat embroidered with the logo from the Morehead Utility Plant Board. I saw socks, hats, and gloves. Various notes and papers were scattered around. It was as if dad had driven the truck yesterday. But the truth was that he hadn’t driven the truck in almost a year. He was physically unable to. I just somehow stumbled upon a snapshot of his last drive in December or so of 2015.
In the weeks following October 5, 2016, I tried to get back to normal. My wife and I came back home to Northern Kentucky, and I went back to the job I had at the time. As I’ve written about before, grief came at the oddest of times. I’d be fine but then I’d see a commercial that has nothing to do with fathers or death or sickness, and I’d lose it. It was strange. Needless to say, normal for me was never really normal again. I had to find a new normal.
Since my dad passed away, I became a father myself. My son has the same middle name as my father had. I switched jobs and moved to a new city. I’ve dreaded this day for a few months, knowing that it was upcoming and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I didn’t know how I’d react today or what I’d feel.
I wanted to honor dad today, somehow. As I thought over things, I figured the best way I could honor him was pretty simple.
I’d go to work.
I’d come home and play with my son.
I’d love my family as he did.
My wife and I even read a book about fish tonight to our son at bedtime. He seemed to enjoy it. It was fitting, given my dad’s love for fishing.
I’ll never talk to my dad again this side of heaven. I’ll never be able to ask him how to fix something on my car or in my house. Those things are hard to live with, but I know what I can do.
I can take my son fishing when he’s old enough (and tell others how the fish just weren’t biting due to factors beyond my control like the weather).
I can talk to any person like I’ve known them for years, instantly putting them at ease and letting them know that they’re valued.
I can share stories (even when my wife and son rolls their eyes).
I can have a natural love for Scripture and a desire to grow as a follower of Jesus.
These things that my dad did are traditions, in a sense, that I’ll continue.
And I know that I’ll see him again. On the other side of heaven. I’m thankful for that.
All day today, I’ve been reminded of this passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14: Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
So, I don’t grieve like those who have no hope. Dad didn’t while he was alive, either.