May 15, 2011
3 min. read
My father fought cancer for decades. He was the strongest man I have ever known. It was hard to see him wither with a body not able to do what his will desired. His suffering finally ended during the early morning of April 20th. Despite knowing that the cancer was terminal and preparing for it. Death is never easy. It tears a hole through you.
The storm was heavy. No matter what I did, I couldn’t keep the ship from going down. Long weekends driving down to be with Dad and doing anything I could to make him more comfortable, but the storm just grew. The ship was groaning, in so much pain. Then, faster than I could imagine, the ship is in splinters and I’m awash in the sea.
I’m drowning with the ship’s wreckage all around me. Trying to be strong and put on a brave face for the others floating with me, but the waves of grief come fast and are towering. I gasp for breath and hope to survive. There is a piece of wreckage that I grab. A physical thing or two, a picture, memories of a certain time. But all around me is wreckage reminding me of the beauty of the ship that was and now is gone. For a while, all I can do is float. Survive.
The waves are shrinking. I know they’ll be less frequent. Some waves I’ll see coming for birthdays or while doing something we did together. Some will surprise me, unexpectantly filling my mouth with water and making me gasp. But I know I’ll get through them. I know I’ll survive.
We all know that Dad is now reaping his reward, for years of service to the Lord. That makes it easier to handle. I never knew my dad’s dad and my namesake. He died when my father was in his late teens. It was up to dad to teach me of grandpa through himself and now I will have the task of teaching my unborn children of dad through me. I hope I’m worthy of that task.
The one sure way to get dad to do something was to tell him it is impossible. This is one of the best lessons dad taught me, that I could do anything. I might have to learn something first and the worst that would happen is I would fail. So what? What happens most often is I didn’t. In a world full of people scared to try, this was a great gift.
I never realized how many lives dad touched. With little notice, on a Thursday night, the largest funeral home in town was completely packed. The line was out the door for hours. Cars circled the lot to wait for someone to leave, just to have a spot. A dozen times that night, someone came up to me and told me how much dad meant to them, with a story they had to tell. So many things I never would have know he did. Something dad probably just did from his nature and without a second thought. Most would love to have touched that many lives when they are gone.
I miss you, dad.
And I hope the waves never stop.