The next morning stands out to me the most from that time.
There was a sweet moment where I was able to convince myself that it had all been a dream.
And yet, even as I laid there convincing myself of this false truth, I wouldn’t allow myself to open my eyes yet.
All of the self-convincing in the world was going to run right into my new reality the second I opened my eyes and broke eye-contact with the dream.
But open my eyes I did. And as I walked downstairs from my bedroom that morning to a house full of people except for the one person I longed to be there more than anyone, I knew that my life had changed forever.
I will never forget the day prior, coming home from school to my dad still in bed (it was the first day that this had happened no matter how sick he had gotten). The house slowly filling up with people throughout the afternoon. The whispers and concerned looks that they tried to wash away as soon as one of us kids would see them.
And then the night that my dad slipped away into a world that we can only dream of this side of heaven. The tears, the disbelief.
I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for a moment such as this one, a moment that is so beyond our ability to understand that our minds and bodies sort of shut down and so we push all of the responsibility of coping onto our understanding of Jesus and our soul’s have to carry the burden.
But Jesus and souls and all of that spiritual stuff is so real and yet so confusing. There’s no way to fully understand it which is why people who go through trauma are never the same.
I know I will never be the same since losing my dad to Cancer at the age of eight. I keep thinking that at some point it will stop feeling so empty when I think about him, and yet my life was altered at that time in a very significant way.
Forever more there will be a before, and an after. A life with my dad and one without.
But the beautiful thing, the thing that keeps me holding on to hope, is that this is not a two-act show.
It’s a three-act one…
Yes, there has been a before and an after. Most of us can probably point to a time in our lives where things sort of stopped, altered, shifted, something happened that we could never go back from.
…but there is an act that is yet to come, and that is the hope I hold onto.
Maybe it’s because I dealt with death as a very real thing that I have always been fascinated with the concept of it. I don’t mind talking about it at all. I’m sort of morbid in the fact that I always think about who will be next. I am not afraid of it.
Oh, and I love cemeteries.
Like, I love them.
I am drawn to them, spend time in them, I write and read and rest in them.
I think they’re absolutely beautiful.
My dad doesn’t have a gravestone and I’m perfectly fine with that. Because he is not there. As much as the symbolism might have been nice, he wouldn’t be there. He is in the place where Cancer is no longer a defeater and where death and depression and abuse and disease no longer have any rule or reign over the children of God.
And today, on Good Friday, I can’t help but ponder how hopeless the disciples must have felt. If I were them I would be questioning everything.
Did we have it wrong?
I thought He was our hope?
How could He have fooled us like this?
What’s going to happen now?
Why would He just leave us?
How much time have I wasted following Him?
Will this pain ever stop?
How can we go on?
Many of these questions I have asked myself over the years dealing with the never-ending, just always-changing pain and void that I have to process constantly with the death of my daddy.
Jesus died on this Friday over two thousand years ago.And. Yet.
In the hopelessness of the situation, there was a hope that would change hope forever.
There was a death that would change death forever.
Jesus was in the process of changing the way we would live and the way we would die…forever.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that is in each one of us if we choose to receive Him, Jesus rose from the grave.
Wounds and all.
He rose. He defeated death. The one thing that we truly have absolutely no control over, the thing that seems to be the end of all endings, is only the beginning in Christ.
“Oh death where is your victory? Oh death where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55 NIV)
I found the most beautiful cemetery the other day. And while I stood there It started snowing when just hours earlier it had been warm and sunny.
And all I could think about was how this world was so beyond our control. Death and life and wrong and right feel so subjective that we have no other option than to hope in something bigger than all of us.
Someone asked me recently why I loved cemeteries.
I could only answer in sentences as broken and chipped as the gravestones. I had no complete thoughts, but do any of us this side of death?
“Everything” I finally said.
“The stories that must be there. The lives lived. The reality of death and the hope and tragedy of it as well.
The reminder of our mortality.
The reminder of God.
The question of whether hope remains in these families or not.
The opportunity to pray for them.