For the first time last night, I had a dream with my Dad in it, and I understood, in the dream, that he was no longer alive. But then the strangest thing happened. Somehow, in the hodgepodge blur I remember, he wasn’t alive, but I could still see him, as if he was, and we were dancing.

And strangely enough, we weren’t dancing, like I might remember as a little girl, with my feet on his, or like I might remember from my wedding day, when my fluffy dress made me feel like I was floating on a cloud, and I paused a few times in our dance to get my steps together again, with a little side to side arm action and a twist thrown in, with hopes that it didn’t look like I was a mess.

It wasn’t a classy snapshot memory at all. Instead, we were on a tennis court, but I think indoors, and I think at a party, and he was at least ten or fifteen feet away from me, and we were doing the electric slide. But that line down the middle of the tennis court was between us, and neither of us could cross it. But it was still somehow good, us both dancing.

I have absolutely no memory of my Dad doing the electric slide, ever. But I have to admit, in my dream last night, he was throwing some sweet shapes on the dance floor. And he looked younger and he had more hair, and, it’s honestly hard to believe, he did not have an ECU baseball cap on.

I suppose it’s safe to say this little snippet of my life, this snippet of a dream where I felt confused but I think happy at the same time, is a bit like grief itself.

Strange, and messy.


I’ve cried more tears than I thought I was capable of crying. I’ve laughed harder, fuller and deeper than I thought I would for a while. And somewhere in between trying to figure out the work of settling an estate and supporting my talented hubs (you need family pictures soon, right?) and loving and nurturing and raising three kiddiddles, I am walking the road of this really messy thing called grief.

‘Messy’ is as best a term as I can muster – for when you will erupt in tears at a simple question for no particular reason, when you will avoid things you know need to get done {ahem, thank you notes} because you just know they’re going to be less cathartic than you hope, and really just downright hard. For when you find yourself simultaneously wanting to cheer and to cry when you realize your two-year-old still sometimes pretends to call G-pa on his “cell-phone” {calculator} or he cheers when he sees G-pa’s picture on your Facebook profile.

Grief is just plain messy.

At this stage in it, I’m running more errands than I want to and writing a lot less than I want to. (And probably need to.) But I’m focusing on staying focused, {ironic, hey?} and trying to make sure the tasks on the estate-settling list get crossed off, and I still get wholesome meals on the table. But sometimes it’s Dominos.

The busy is probably good, even though it’s hard. And the memories I’m making with my kids, cherishing them and creating opportunities for love and laughs and learning, this is where the best stuff, the most-healing stuff is happening.

God whispers gently: there is so much good still to come. He is also whispering hope and life and faith, through the voices of Sunday sermons, blog posts, His amazing Word and strong and solid teachings, like this gem by A.W. Tozer.

The most beautiful reminder of all, in my Dad’s absence, is the constant reminder of the Lord’s presence. I’m aiming to fix the gaze of my soul on God. {Thanks, Tozer.}

Perhaps it’s a valley I’m walking through, that somehow still has some beautiful hills to climb — it’s messy to describe, but it is a place where I know there is a God who makes every path smooth by His grace.

Next Sunday I’ll be sharing about my Dad’s faith journey at the church he called home for a good while. Appropriately, it’s Father’s Day. My heart is certain there are some stories to tell, my hope is that the Lord will give me the grace to tell those stories — and communicate the greater truth behind them — well. {I’d appreciate your prayers, and if you’re local, you are welcome.}

Right now the truth I’m aiming to cling to that I offer to you as well is this: He loves us. Oh, how He loves us.

That night, in the hospital, when the end was beginning and everything was a messy blur, this was the Word, when I opened the Bible on my phone:


He was there for me, an abiding Presence, through the toughest week of my life.

Friends, He loves us. Amen.