I wonder when we'll stop waking up at 5:00 am.
I had to change my ringtone on my phone, because whenever it rang I was instantly in that moment, being pulled from sleep and hearing mom's shaky voice on the phone.
"It doesn't look good."
As I raced over to your house, I knew it. I just knew that this was the end of your earthly story. I didn't even think to pray that God would spare your life. Isn't that strange? All I could think to pray was God, thank you for my dad.
That morning, death was trying to win. The verse that says "Where, O death, is your sting?" kept running through my mind, and I was thinking, this is the sting right here. Everywhere. I found it. This stings. It felt like the air was thicker, the silences heavier, the thoughts in my head sharper. We just sat there, shocked, realizing all the things that day was going to bring us. Funeral arrangements. Life insurance. Cemetery decisions. How were we supposed to do all that when we couldn't even wrap our minds around the fact that you were gone?
For years, I've been telling myself at every Christmas, every family dinner, every birthday party, every picnic in every park, Enjoy this, because this is the time of your life. And I did. I cherished it. I enjoyed those moments because I knew they wouldn't last forever. But knowing our days were numbered didn't prepare me for how life altering losing you would really be. And now that those days are gone, I am overwhelmed with this sense of what now? Rationally, and because of my faith, I know God heals and we will be happy again at some point. But I also know, my happiness will never quite be the same here on earth.
Sometimes I cry and I feel better. Sometimes I cry and feel worse. I have a spot in the house where I cry--in the middle of the night, so I don't wake my sleeping family. Our family has always been private about weeping, as you know. Sometimes I feel like I won't ever stop crying.
In those moments of bitter weeping, so many painful thoughts occur to me. Like that I just didn't have you long enough. I'm only 31. I don't want to face all the years ahead without you. Or that mom wasn't finished with you. Or that death keeps getting closer and closer to me. The holes in my life keep getting larger. I've always thought I was a pretty tough cookie, but now that I've tasted what grief is really like, I'm really not interested in tasting more of it, and now more than ever I realize I can do absolutely nothing about it. I hate that feeling of being powerless.
We try to pretend that death is natural, but when we come face to face with it, the first reaction is always no.
The truth is, we were never intended for death. God created us with the capacity to live forever. We chose death. Because of sin, we now have to face this grief, this emptiness, this gut wrenching pain that separates us from the ones we love and hold dear. What foolish things we are!
But there is a silver lining to our grief, because we know that God will not hold us to our choice forever. Through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will see you again someday.
I wonder if I'll know you're my dad. I wonder if we'll still be allowed to tease each other. I wonder if you'll laugh and wink at me and I'll finally feel like the hole in my heart closes up.
I've imagined you holding our lost baby. You know more about this precious little one than I do at this point. That's actually a little comforting.
Yes, death stings right now. Death thinks it's winning. But Christ has already been victorious over it. Christ crushed the power of death when he came storming out of its doors just three days after he'd died himself. Jesus looked at the brokenness that death caused and promised to fix it for us. And he did just that.
Someday, for me and for others who have embraced Christ's victory, death will be history. No more. He promised it in the Bible, and God keeps his promises. Always.
I can't wait till that day. It feels a long way off now, but if I've learned anything in the past week and a half, it's that our lives pass by in an instant. The older we get, the faster time seems to move. I don't like it, not one bit, but there is joy in knowing that when we reach eternity, time will stop. I won't have to focus on cherishing every moment, because there won't be an end to the moments to cherish. There won't be a number to our days. Our joy won't have a shadow of pain.
Till then, I want to live as you lived, as a servant of Jesus, redeeming the time by being a light in this present darkness.
But I'm probably going to have to ugly cry for a long while too. I promise I won't let lies creep in though. I promise that I'll lace my grieving with truth from Scripture and with prayer. I won't be bitter. I'm not interested in being bitter or depressed for the rest of my life. As the grief grows in my life, so shall the truth. It won't defeat me. I promise you.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!