A friend got me hooked on a TV show last year. She introduced me to "House" and ever since then it has been coming to me via Netflix, one disk at a time. The worst part is, I lose sleep whenever the new episode comes because I stay up late watching.
Yesterday I received a new disk and last night I started watching the four episodes on it. The last one of the night had to do with a man who was dying and the disease he had was untreatable. He was losing the ability to breath, his muscles were collapsing, and he wanted to be out of pain.
In watching the show my mind immediately went back to my dad.
Last July my dad passed away after a battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). It is a nasty disease that eats away at a persons body until they can no longer use their muscles at all. Dad battled this disease for 18 months, and finally passed away in his sleep on a Wednesday morning.
There have been times since his death that I have caught myself picking up the phone to call him, or turning on the computer to send him an e-mail. Then I catch myself and remember that I cannot do that anymore. I find myself watching a movie, like Field of Dreams, and missing the times we shared playing catch in the backyard. I find myself missing all those things that we used to do, and the pain of the loss comes back.
Dad was a vibrant man, full of life, who loved a good laugh and conversation over a cup of coffee. I think of all the gifts that he gave to me, and am quite sad that Sierra will not remember him, and our child to come will have never met him. So I have to keep telling to stories, sharing the memories of him, with them.
I have come to think of memories in two different ways. The first is the joyful reflections of the past - the events, people, and times shared. These are the good memories, and bring tears of joy to our eyes because of the good times and bring tears of sadness because we cannot share those times anymore.
Then there are the memories that keep us in the past. We are so stuck in what used-to-be that we miss what is happening today. These are the times that we cannot move forward because the memories keep us so tied to the past that we cannot live in the present or see the future.
As children of God, we are blessed in knowing that this life is not the end, there is that promise of the resurrection, the promise that we will see and celebrate with those loved ones who have gone before us. It does not mean that there will not be sadness or pain in this life - there will be and all of us know that because we have lived it. It means that the pain and sadness are temporary, and that God's grace and love will overpower any struggle or pain we are facing today.
So today, as I reflect on the memories of dad, I am reminded to be a storyteller. To tell of the time dad coached my baseball team and saw me hit my first homerun. To tell of the hiking adventures and trips to the mountains. To tell of the first job my sister and I ever had - cleaning his office building, and he helped us find the wastebaskets.
I am also reminded to tell the story that never ends - the story of hope, healing, and new life that comes in Christ. The story that death is not eternal, but God's love and grace is. To tell the story of stones that have been rolled away and tombs that have been emptied. For this memory, this promise, is the one that holds onto us when we cannot make it on our own. It is the story of God's love for his children.