The man I called dad until I was 14 was laid to rest one year ago today. In remembrance of him I post something that I wrote on that day……I learned a very hard lesson the day he passed. Take the time to try to mend what is broken. Settle differences and forgive past mistakes. Heal old haunting wounds of the past. Above all, always tell loved ones how much you love them…..
I knew today was going to be a difficult day. As much as I knew I should probably force myself to go to work, I just could not bring myself to do it. I got Lucas off to school and did not want to go back home just to sit and think. I decided to go for a run on the Greenway between Noble and Stewart Nelson Park.
The usual routine when I think about running…..normally, I just sit around and wait for the urge to pass. For the record, this usually doesn’t take very long. But, I knew today, of all days, I really needed this. I parked the car, got out, and did a little bit of stretching, still looking for an excuse. I looked up at the sky and noticed how cloudy it was; I pulled my handy smartphone out of my pocket and checked the weather. Oh boy…..sixty percent chance of rain this morning. 1.75 miles is a long way out to get stuck in the rain and have to come all the way back.
Then, my inner tough girl decided to come out full force. “Quit making excuses, get your ass out there, and run! If God decides to show off a little bit this morning, it might be because you need to see the display.” All right, all right! For those of you wondering; yes, this back and forth dialog is a common thing for me. If that makes me crazy, so be it.
Off I go. I didn’t take any music with me, because I just wanted my senses to be in tune to my surroundings. I didn’t want to focus on anything but what I came here to dump this morning. I started off with a fast walk, then worked myself into a steady jog. I always hate starting the jog. I’ve never been a strong runner. Even in the military, when my fitness level was at its peak, I was not a runner. I could do it, at least enough to meet the standard, but I am not a sprinter. The start-up is always what sucks; trying to get your breathing regulated, your stride just right, and working out all the kinks in your muscles and joints. I find that the urge to give up always comes in the first five to ten minutes of a run. I am well aware of this, as much as I have done it, and I just give myself the pep talk to keep going and the urge will soon pass. Of course, I was right.
As I slowly get into the groove, I start paying more attention to everything around me. I notice that there are only a few other people out this morning, which is kind of nice. On top of everything else, I really do not want to feel self conscious too. I realize that the trail is dirt and white gravel and was quite glad; this is much easier on the joints than pavement. I start to notice the trees and brush surrounding the trail. The leaves are beginning to turn and I smile at the thought of fall. One of my favorite times of the year. I love the bold reds, yellows, and oranges that paint the skyline during this time of year. Oh crap! A cute guy is running towards me. I suck in my gut a little and pick up the pace just a tad. We give each other the slight smile and nod and keep on trucking. Okay, you can relax now.
I reach an opening in the brush and notice a field to the East. The clouds are beginning to pass and the sun is beaming down on my face. “I feel you, Lord,” I audibly say. My mind drifts back to the reason for my run, and I feel God in my face. “I see that you decided not to drench me this morning with a thunderstorm. In a way, I am kind of disappointed.” I sense God’s reply, “My child, you don’t need the storm this morning. You need me to be warm and gentle. You need comfort today.” I instantly feel the sun shining brighter, and the breeze picks up just ever so slightly and blows directly into my face. The tears begin to well up in my eyes, and I can’t help but smile. He knows me so well, so much better than I even know myself. I often repeat that phrase, but I never cease to be amazed at how well my God knows me. Out of the billions of people, I always feel as if I am the only one in the world when I am alone with Him. How does He do that?
My thoughts begin to take me back to memories I have not reflected on in many years. I believe that when we go to heaven, we will be able to look down on the ones we love. I begin to wonder about the mechanics of this. Can he see me right now? I believe that he can. Does he know that I am thinking of him in this very moment? Then, I begin to wonder what the barriers are to watching over loved ones on earth while in heaven. Is there even a barrier at all? Can they sense when we are thinking about them? Do they know what we are thinking or is that reserved only for God himself? In this very moment, I wish that he could know what I am thinking. Did he ever know how much I loved him? Did he ever know that many of the good memories I held onto all these years included him? I know that he was aware of the bad memories I carried along, but did I ever bother to tell him what he did right?
I called him Dad. Not out of some sense of duty or because he married my mom, but because he had earned it. I wanted to call him Dad. That’s how I looked at him and I began to wonder whether he ever understood that during his short lifetime.
My thoughts take me to where he is right now. Is he standing next to God right now? Can he be spiritually present with me in this moment the way that God is? I find myself wishing I could see what’s on the other side of the veil. I start to feel a little homesick, wishing I could be there seeing what he is seeing; wishing that my spirit was not bound to my flesh.
I start to envy those that get the chance to say their goodbyes and have the opportunity to experience that closure. There is a sense of peace that must come with that; knowing that you got to tell someone everything you wanted to say before they left this world. I wish I had that; in this situation particularly.
As I begin to feel the despair rise up, the wind picks up and turns my attention back to the big guy in the room. I love how He knows just how to get my attention. Sometimes He has to do it with a thunderstorm; most of the time it’s with a gentle breeze. He turns my attention to the sound of my breath and the sound of my own heartbeat, pounding loudly and strongly in my chest. I am reminded that He controls even this. He has control over my next breath and whether my heart continues to beat. He was in control when the man I used to call Dad took his last breath. There is a reason that things happen the way that they do. While I don’t understand, and I want so badly to play God and reverse the clock so that I can look at him one last time and tell him everything I want him to know; I must let God control what is His to control and trust that He is handling the situation with the utmost care and concern. I am reminded of my favorite Bible verse in Matthew. He loves me and cares for me even more than the sparrow. He watches me; every single hair on my head is counted. He watches me and He watches those that I love. He loves me and those that I love beyond what I can possibly imagine. I can imagine quite a bit; if I am incapable of doing anything else right in this world, I know how to love. Yet I still fall short of the way that He loves.
“Abide in me, my love. There are no goodbyes; this is not the end.” Thank you, Jesus. This is exactly what I needed to hear. I don’t know whether Brian knew, whether he knows now; but one day, I will be standing where he is and I will be able to tell him everything that I should have told him while he was here. There is no greater comfort than that.
As I get closer to my car, I begin to hope that heaven is not just mansions on hilltops with streets of gold. I hope that at least portions of heaven are like the Garden of Eden as well. Maybe I feel this way because it seems that I am closer to God when I’m surrounded by His creation. Whatever the case, I love God the artist. Of all the many names and different aspects of God’s character, I love the artistry. Artists are more in tune to what lies beneath the surface; I’m glad that God passed a piece of this character along to humanity. While I enjoy outward beauty, I am mesmerized when I discover something deeper. There is something much more fascinating and breathtaking when you immerse yourself in the spirit of someone or something. You will not find it on the outside; you have to dive deeper than that.
I feel renewed. The pain and the sorrow that I felt before I started have melted off my body along with the sweat that perspired out of my pores. Why is it exactly that I hate running? I find myself wishing that I could stay here forever. Thank you, God for giving me what I needed this morning. You always meet me right where I’m at and embrace me with love in exactly the form that I need. Stay with me today and keep my eyes on you.
I pray that you provide all of Brian’s loved ones with this same comfort and peace today. Remind us of this when our finite minds forget and Satan comes to steal our joy. Brian is with you and there is no safer, happier place for him to be. This is not the end; his life is just beginning.