It's the 22nd of July, and life - for all practical purposes - is in our full normal. Travel basketball season is coming to an end. Summer is just over halfway through. Family vacations are just around the corner.
Yet, really, life isn't normal. Not the old normal. If it were, I'd be able to stop in at my parents' on a weekday morning and find my Dad enjoying the Price is Right. Or he'd be sitting in his lawnchair in the garage watching the cars go by. I'd sometimes get his voice on the other end of the line when I called their number.
Most days, my grief has come to a place where I can think of and talk about him with no tears. But some days - like today - it feels so incredibly raw once again.
It doesn't help that I've had dreams about him the last two days. Or that we keep singing "Good Father" in church (Seriously - it even got one of the pre-schoolers in our VBS group bawling last night. Can we stop singing that song soon, please?! No, I'm only joking. But it does set me off nearly every time.)
I know that this is all just part of the deal of losing someone you love. I'm not trying to say it isn't. I just needed a place to process these feelings tonight. (It's currently 1AM.)
If I were to say what makes these bad moments tolerable, I guess it is that I know my hope is in the Lord. I believe whole-heartedly that my Dad is in heaven with Jesus right now. I know that someday - in a blink of an eye - I'll be there too. Our separation is only temporary. We WILL spend eternity together.
Also, I know that the life my Dad was living his last months on this earth was not anything I'd want him to still be suffering through. The Dad I long for is the Dad of 5-10 years ago. That's the version of him I dream of. That's who I wish was still here.
I just wonder sometimes what sets me off. The other day, as Luke was driving, I was wiping away tears because I saw a sign for the Allendale Tractor Show. I remember - probably 10 years ago now - when he and his friend Bud would go to that. Dad was like a kid in a candy store around all those tractors. And then, because Luke was driving, it made me think about how Dad didn't get to see the twins get their permits last month. Or hear about Luke's MBA season. Or how Mikayla worked 12 hours the other day (he'd be so proud of how hard a worker she is). Or how Hannah was helping me lead a group at VBS this week.
Or sometimes I think life just slows down enough that I remember who's missing.
A friend, who had lost her Mom to cancer several years ago, told me something very wise right after Dad died. She said that even though you're a grown child with children of your own...losing a parent still makes you feel like an orphan. Parents are the people (if you're lucky) who have been with you since you took your first breath. In my case, they were my biggest fans. My loudest encouragers. Even though my husband and kids think I'm pretty great...their adoration isn't the same as that of my Mom and Dad's. If you're lucky enough to have parents like mine, you know what I mean. Those kind of parents are the bomb. So when one of them leaves this earth - that's a hole that just can't ever be filled.
Earthly parents like mine are such an amazing testimony to the love of our Heavenly Father for us.
That's what gives me comfort.
My Abba Father God loves and adores me even more than my Dad did.
Just like the words to that song that keeps bringing me to tears in church:
"You're a good, good Father. It's who you are. It's who you are. It's who you are.
And I'm loved by you. It's who I am. It's who I am. It's who I am."
It's pretty emotional to think that my Heavenly Father loves me that much. That I am loved by Him. The Creator of the universe.
So as I dry my tears tonight, I have that song running though my mind. I'm so thankful for the Dad I had...and the Abba Father who will never leave my side.
But before I go to bed, I think it's time to re-watch my Dad's slideshow. No one else is awake, so I can see his smile and have one more good cry.
I love you, Dad. Missing you a little extra tonight.