Thursday, July 24, 2008

One year

Tomorrow, July 25th, will be the one year anniverary of my dad's death. Obviously this is something that has been on my mind, so today's blog will be a combination of memory of a year ago and thoughts that move me forward.

July 25, 2007 was a Wednesday - Jennifer had left early in the morning for our Breakfast Bible Study, and Sierra was up quite early so we ran out to get a doughnut (with sprinkles) for breakfast. When we got back, the phone rang and it was mom, telling me that dad had passed away.

For those who don't know, dad had been battling ALS (Lou Geherig's disease) for over a year. During that time he had changed dramatically, lost his ability to eat, speak, and move very well at all. When it came to battling the disease, death was a gift of peace, since he was suffering so much, but the loss was still tremendous.

Over the past year there have been numerous times that I picked up the phone to call him - we were close and talked on the phone often when we has well - and there are still times I think, "I should ask dad about this." I think this is normal for all of us who lose loved ones.

And as I look to the future, I see traits of dad in me and continue to search for ways to pass his stories, gifts, and love on to Sierra. She still remembers him, but her memories are fading and they are of the man who was beaten down by the disease - not the man who played ball with me, taught me about nature, and loved to sit and chat for hours in a coffee shop. So I write down memories, introduce Sierra to things that dad loved, and try to answer her questions about him. when the new child comes, i will be doing the same thing with that one - since he/she will never have the opportunity to meet him in person.

So today, my thoughts are for those who have lost loved ones in the past year. May you be blessed with warm memories of your loved ones - and may you be comforted with the gift of God's loving arms wrapping around you.


chrissy said...

Pastor E-my thoughts are with YOU tomorrow and may God wrap his arms around YOU and comfort YOU.
I sometimes think of how I will handle things when my parents pass on. My mom is my best friend and confidant and the thought of losing her some day makes me cherish the days I have with her and it reminds me to appreciate her(and my dad) for always being there for me and my family.
Another person's loss can open up our eyes to appreciating what we have.

Betty Dygart said...

It was over 38 years ago, Jan. 6, 1970 that I received a phone call at 1 a.m. telling me of my mother's fatal heart attack. The pain has become less acute, but I still remember it very vividly. I even recall what assignment I left for the substitute to administer during my absence from my classes of Junior English.

We were on a unit surrounding the Transcendentalists, Emerson and Thoreau. There was an exerpt in the textbook from Thoreau's "Walden," the second chapter, I believe it was, "Where I lived and what I lived for."

It was an appropriate study.

My plan was to read and discuss that chapter, and to then assign my students to write their own chapter, as way of addressing the school district requirement, (in those days, at least), that every Junior in high school write an autobiography.

I imagine the substitute had less success than I would have, had I been there. Being a substitute is a very challenging job. Getting students to write, or to even want to think about what to write is in itself difficult, even for the regular teacher.

But, my point in bringing this up, is that we never forget the loss of a parent. It is a gut-wrenching experience, one that will stay with us until our death. So, how to cope?

The Bible helps. Romans 8:26-27

"The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our heart knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."

Take comfort, then, in knowing even if all you can utter is a groan, that the Spirit knows what you are feeling; the Spirit knows what you cannot express in words. God, through the Spirit, is our refuge and strength.

The Spirit be with you today and everyday, Pastor E, and also with all who have lost parents.

lula said...

Pr E- I knew the anniversary of his death was coming up but I wasn't sure when. It's tough to handle the anniversary of a parent's death. Both of my parents were ill at the same time. My dad was in a hospital bed in the music room and Mom was in a hospital bed in the living room. They could see each other and waved periodically. I remember when Dad first went into a coma. The caregiver would ask him to open his mouth, she'd put food in it, and then she'd remind him to swallow She sent me after baby food for him so I bought LOTS and LOTS knowing he couldn't die until all the food was gone. It didn't happen that way cuz he died the next night. That night, Mom asked me to sleep in the living room on the couch to be close to her so I did. The care giver was in the recliner in Dad's room. I looked in on him periodically. I then went to the bathroom (you really wanted to know that, huh), and when I came back, he was gone. It's the worst hurt I've ever experienced. I wondered how I could possibly survive without him. What if I needed him? At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to live without him. My first memories of him after he passed were of him in his hospital bed (he'd been ill for so long). Eventually, I remembered the happy stuff--as a kid, following him around like a shadow, sitting on his lap lots and lots, singing in the car--he'd sing Christmas songs in German and we'd sing them in English, he'd call me silly names (I won't share those!). It's been 12 years. Since then, I've lost my mom, my sister, my niece, and three cats. The toughest loss by far was my dad. Am I stronger? Yup! Am I more empathetic when someone else loses someone? Yup! But loss is tough and we move on.