Four years ago tonight I received a phone call, sometime after 11 p.m. I had already gone to bed, and groggily reached to take the phone from Sabian when he came into our bedroom saying, "Your brother is on the phone." I remember him saying,
"What do you mean he's gone?" I responded.
I'm sure there were other words in there somewhere, and maybe those aren't even the exact ones spoken, but either way, the message was clear. My dad had passed away.
I was nine months pregnant with Adelaide and it was the eve of my due date. I was in Florida, and my family was in Illinois.
Dad died three days before Addie was born, and was buried the day after her birthday. I will never have to wonder how long it has been since my dad has been gone. I was in a hospital room in Panama City, FL, celebrating the birth of my first child, while mourning the death of my father.
How does this happen?
This year, the anniversary of my dad's death is different than the others. This time, we are here. We're within reach of familiar people, places and things, whereas before this, we were living in Florida, removed from these familiarities.
This process, the grieving process, as I guess its called, has been different for me. It's been a bit surreal.
The last time I was home before my dad died was just a couple of months before, in January, for a baby shower given to me by the ladies from my home church. I'd gotten a horrible stomach bug while I was home on that trip and my dad had actually ended up in the hospital for a couple of days, which wasn't terribly unusual at that point in his struggle with diabetes. I remember him saying something about how my trip hadn't quite turned out like he/we thought it would, me sick and him in the hospital.
The next time I was home we had our two month old Addie with us - and dad wasn't there. Even though I knew better, it was almost as though he was just out on a trip to the commissary, or Walmart, or maybe he'd stopped by to chat up his friends at the dry cleaners.
It took me a while, but I finally realized about a year ago why dealing with the loss of my dad was so strange for me. This process hasn't really been a process for me at all. Dad was here and then he just...wasn't. I visited home, he was there. I went back to Florida, I visited home again, and he was gone. As odd as it sounds, I didn't get to see him in the hospital. I didn't get to go to his funeral. I didn't get to witness his with-military-honors burial. I didn't get to spend those days before, during and after, with my family.
When I think about all of this there is an internal tug-o-war that occurs. While I didn't get to go through the process, I do believe in some ways I was spared the process. I don't have to remember my dad in the hospital, I can remember him at home. Had we been in Belleville through the weeks leading up to my dad's death, and the weeks after, and I had been pregnant at the same time, well, that would have been...hard.
I may never know why the sequence of events surrounding that time was the way it was...we moved (my first time away from home), I got pregnant a month later, while I was pregnant my dad died, three days later I had my first baby. All in less than a year. It's such a crazy string of events that sometimes when I think about it, it sounds like someone else's life.
While I may not understand, I have to believe that God was at work...is at work. That what happened was not a smattering of random events, and didn't happen in an "everything happens for a reason" kind of way, but rather, in a God is sovereign kind of way.
So today, I remember that time. A time when I experienced such a range of circumstances and emotions. I mourned and celebrated, I reflected on the past with my dad and looked forward to the future with my daughter. And I rest in knowing that God is in control. He knows and He does because He is.
I am thankful for my dad.