"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Yesterday it hit me

This blog has been on quite the journey. When I started it my dad insisted that I was doing it for myself - that I would learn a lot by writing it. He saw it as a journal where his highly extraverted daughter could process her life, come to her conclusions and grow.

Yes, I'm sure there is some of that for in writing my external self processes. I know I can do it in a journal, but I'm wired to help people... so for me, this blog is my ministry outlet....

When I started this blog, I wanted to share a piece of my heart and soul with you. I wanted to tell you that it's okay to be real - to have feelings and struggles. Sometimes we are strong and at other times we may feel defeated and weak and it's all okay.

I wanted to encourage you to grow, spread your wings and fly.

I wanted to share with you my experiences so that you could either relate and not feel alone or perhaps avoid mistakes that I have already made. Maybe you could feel proud that you don't struggle so immensely with the things that I struggle with.... wink.

I wanted to tell you that we are all on a journey - and that it takes different paths for all of us. How we go through it is as unique as the journey itself, but that you never go it alone. You always have a loving God who guides you along the way.

I was sharing my stupid little struggles that seemed large in my head. I asked questions like: "How do I become the artist I was born to be?" or "How do we combat the voices that hold us back?"

I shared art to expand some of your understanding of the arts so that you could grow in your creative edge - fully believing that in the expression of creativity we find ourselves and the great Creator. I still believe that.

Then my year took a cruel and unexpected twist as life often does. Was I immune to the real struggles?  Living with a chronic illness for 23 years, a child on the spectrum, financial struggles and other things kind of stink.... but they pale in comparison to losing someone you love.

Yesterday it hit me.... My father is not coming back. He is GONE.

It hit me because the trauma of my last few weeks has moved a bit to the background.

It all hit me square in the eyes.

No more will I see his silly grin or hear his darling puns.

No more will I kiss his soft little face or put my hand on his fine white hair.

I won't be able to have nice little visits with him in his study.

He's gone....

I will no longer be able to tease him or laugh with him, nor will I hear him tease me - something he LOVED to do because apparently, I'm an easy mark. I lay myself wide open - willingly, for I'll do pretty much anything for a laugh or to lighten the mood in a room. I'm not afraid to laugh at myself.

He's no longer going to come barreling down the stairs to see me or stand in the foyer to embrace me in a big awkward bear hug from his 6 foot 4 framed body.

He won't be taking any more of those pictures from his treasured travels and loading them on google for me to see. Wish he could take some images of heaven and put them on the internet.

How about a little note with it.... "Hi Ruth .... having a great time... the colors are beautiful and the food even better. I see what you mean about worship now.... Wow. You would LOVE this! I get to preach day and night with all kinds of impressive people... but I won't name drop - it wouldn't be fitting. Here's a little picture of me with Grandpa. Jesus sends his love! Fight the good fight and keep the faith.... Love Dad".

Why does death have to be so final?

I won't see my dad towering over the crowds at church or sit next to him at all the holiday dinners while I watch him survey the feast with pleasure.

I'm so glad that we didn't make him miss the last inning of the Super Bowl this year... Glad we stayed even though I was tired and wanted to go home. He wanted to stay and I wanted to please him - because I always tried to please him. It was as if I pleased God by pleasing my father - because they were THAT close.

I went out with my mom and my oldest daughter today. We dined and went to the Apple store. I so wished we could share the experience with dad. I would tell him what we ate...how good my tofu was. Mom would show him her new computer and how she is now a cool Mac user and how they gave her the student discount because my daughter was there.  He would love the food. He would support Mom in her new purchase. He would be a very important part of our simple day.

I would tell him how my car battery died on my civic so I had to take the truck and then he would stand outside and shake his head when the truck battery died in his driveway - wondering to himself about this crazy daughter that he has that always gets into such interesting situations. Then he would question why the Prius lights went on and that car almost didn't start too. Certainly the common denominator was me. Am I a battery drainer?

But, I couldn't tell him... because he's gone and he's never coming back.

The day felt lonely... incomplete. and it was - because someone very important is missing from our lives.... and yet still holds a very important place in our hearts.

My sweet mom - she is so strong. She's determined to be independent (because she IS) and stay busy and fruitful... but oh, the hole that has been thrust upon her so suddenly. So unexpectedly. To lose her best friend of 52 plus years. Her soulmate. Her love. Her support. Her comfort. Ugh.

To me, the days and months to follow seem bleak. He was our comic relief. He was just that cute with his words and his actions. His childlike presence. His helplessness and yet his towering wisdom and strength. His sheepish grin and his incredible love and respect for the woman my mother was. His excitement when telling me about how God was moving. He was so terribly interesting and so pathetically cute.

Two years ago I went to the community Good Friday service. I knew he would be there... where else would he be?

There he sat - alone with a big smile on his face. I sat behind him so as not to disturb him. When he saw me he moved back to sit by me.

Oh we had such fun.... during the 15 minutes of silence between all the final words of Christ. He counted the organ pipes - I prayed fervently for guidance. I stared at the stain glass window of the angel guiding a little girl over the bridge... He counted the pipes some more.

When we got to sing.... his voice would boom out thru the scanty, elderly crowd. And then it happened  .... a blooper. He got two verses mixed up and out came "Where you there when they nailed him in the side". We glanced at each other and fell to pieces, laughing. I was reminded of all the times both he and I as children (two separate generations) were scolded for laughing in church. He dared not look at me as my body shook violently for he knew he would lose all composure. After all, what would it look like if Pastor Stan was laughing at the Good Friday service? Watching him try to hold it together made it all the more funny for me. The apple didn't fall far from the tree with my dad and I.

Fortunately, the service ended with the song and we were able to go outside and continue our laughter in a more suitable environment.

We visited and shared. I showed him a house I was considering purchasing.

Oh how I LOVED my dad!!!

But he's gone.

Ok, so where's the comfort? Every good message gets you in touch with the problem and the emotions and then gives you hope. And we have hope - we do. We understand especially through this Easter season that death has been defeated!

My husband led this reading at Dad's funeral. He almost didn't get through it, but I find this truth that I memorized at such a young age, comforting.

Lord's Day One from the Heidelberg Catechism

"What is your only comfort in life and in death?"

"That I am not my own, but belong body and soul,
in life and in death to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
In fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to Him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for Him."

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