This is the second post of a wee series discussing the recent loss of my Dad. You can read the first post here.
I’ll be honest with you. The unexpected loss of my Dad felt like a suckerpunch to the gut. I was looking the other way. I didn’t know I was in the ring. I didn’t know I was in a fight.
And grief is this spiraling, strange whirlwind of the mind. You begin to feel a little better, and then you feel bad for feeling better. You aren’t sure which emotions are valid, you aren’t sure where irrational departs from rational. You secretly want to punch people for telling you they know exactly how you feel, but you’re not a violent person.
And yet, death has this way of making your entire life seem clear as an empty wine glass — even just for a moment.
Do you know that moment, when you walk on the beach, and past a pier? You look out towards the ocean while you’re under the pier and all the pilings line up, and the moment seems clear. Everything makes sense.
This is why we left South Africa sooner than we thought we should have.
This is why the gift of our third child being born right when she was makes so much sense.
And wow, when she arrived, my Dad was several states away — he returned to visit his birthplace for the first time in his life. A few months before he died.
What a gift that our finances were so tight, and we were offered this place to stay in Washington, and we didn’t decide to move to Greenville. Wow, wow, wow.
Life lines up, and there’s a lot of stuff you just ‘get.’ Instantly, you see the wisdom, the structure, the logic. It builds your faith and gives you hope.
But the grief journey continues. When you walk out from under the pier, the pilings don’t look perfectly organized anymore. The waves are crashing, surfers are scattered about, dropping in on each other’s waves. Seagulls are squawking. The glare from the sun is bright. You’re squinting, wondering, wishing, thinking.
If I’d really, really made a big deal out of the fact that he needed to go to the doctor, would it have made a difference?
Why couldn’t we have come back sooner?
Why did I say “no” so many times when Dad asked me something? Let’s garden together… Let’s decorate the tree at my house… Should we do twice-baked potatoes?
You struggle to form complete sentences in your own thoughts. You absent-mindedly stare into the distance. You get into your Dad’s car, and the smell reminds you of him. You listen to the voicemails he left you last month.
You cry. At the drop of a hat.
That’s the journey. Those are the cards in my hand.
I’m going to do my best to explain how I’m making sense of all this in my mind, how I’m dealing with it. Because I think it matters.
Even if it doesn’t matter to you, per se, it is an exercise in processing through grief for me. When I have little else, most times, I still have words.
And I want you folks, new and old, who read here to know that I stand on the other side, more confident than ever that what I’ve been saying about this Jesus guy is true.
I’m certain God is good. I’m certain there is hope, there is good ahead of me.
And I’m certain, thanking Jesus as I type, I will see my Dad again.
Have you ever had a pier moment? Are you trying to make some life-sized decisions and struggling to figure them out? Try thinking about what would be most important to you if you lost someone close to you today. Death has an amazing way of putting life into better perspective.