Sunday, May 15, 2016

Picking Up the Pieces, 6 months later

"So I continue to cling to hope during this time. Hope because I know of my dad's faith. Hope because I know that this too shall pass; I will start to feel like myself again one day. Hope because dad's suffering will end. Hope because I know he will live on through me." From the positing "Broken and Empty" on November 6, 2015
I wrote that paragraph just over 6 months ago. A few days later a hope that was already deflated was shattered even further. A broken heart turned into a heart completely demolished. I still remember waking up in the very early hours of morning and getting the news that my dad was gone. I knew it was coming. I knew for 2 months that it could happen at anytime. I knew for a year that this was a very real possibility. Still...still it hurt...it hurt like hell. That hope that I was so desperately clinging to become increasingly difficult to find. I felt so lost and alone even though I was in a sea of people pouring out love.

Several people told me "you learn to find a new normal". Thanksgiving came about 2 weeks later along with dad's birthday that same week. As much as I wanted to sit at home alone I knew that I had to fight to move forward. I searched for that new normal. And guess what? Those people were right. The new normal doesn't feel quite right. But I've learned to accept it as reality.

The week that dad passed I remember sitting in my living room realizing that I had a choice. I could flip God off and blame him for all of my pain and loss. I could try to do it on my own; I could find my own way to ease the pain. OR, I could press into the very one that promised us peace and comfort. I knew that I would eventually end up on my knees looking to Heaven for comfort. I figured that I might as well start there and avoid the detour of doing it on my own. So that is what I did. I won't go into details but I will say that I cannot even imagine going through that pain on my own.

I wrote before about how Psalm 23 says that "He leads us through the valley of the shadow of death...". I will say it again - the key word there is through. God doesn't lead us there and say "well, all the best. See you on the other side, kiddo.". He promises to go with us through the valley. And his word says that it's only a shadow. Why? Because his word also says that death has been defeated.
Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death where is your victory? Oh death where is your sting?
We tend to think of death in terms of loss; so many said "he (my dad) lost his battle with cancer. I call BS on that as I have done every day for the past 6 months. I had the honor of speaking at the gravesite about this very thing. Here is a portion of what I said.
My dad did not lose this fight...my dad held to a faith in the one that has conquered death - Jesus Christ. And he professed that faith even in the end...Because of that my dad won this fight...he is in a place where sickness and death do not exist...
Because of my dad's professed faith his death was a mere shadow thanks for the one the defeated death for all of eternity. I found my first shred of hope in knowing that my dad won the battle and received a new body free of cancer and free of pain. It was in that very truth that I found the courage to do the simplest task of getting out of bed every morning.

It wasn't easy. There were many times that I couldn't keep it together and had to get up from my desk and just walk away; the cold water from the bathroom sink and I were very close many days. But I held onto the hope and comfort of God like my life depended on it. And eventually I managed to find sleep again. I managed to make it through a day without falling apart. Life started to move on.

It's been just over 6 months now since my dad passed away and I would be lying if I said that the pain was not still there; I still hurt and I still miss him deeply. But I have been slowly finding that "new normal" that people told me about 6 months ago. I'm slowly picking up the shattered pieces of my heart and allowing my Heavenly Father to put them back together. I'm starting to see how "God is working [this] thing together for good...". I sometimes can't shake the feeling that "I'm now an orphan". But still I cling to my Father in Heaven that calls me son. And still I move on.