By the time I finish writing this and tacking it on to my Facebook wall, time will have crossed from July 21 to July 22.
On July 22, 2014, an incredible man left this earth. He was a loving son, husband, father, brother, cousin, uncle, and grandfather. As hard as it was to let him go, we found relief that his suffering was no longer prevailing over his frail body.
We watched diabetes attempt to steal his livelihood long before he drew his last breath. Even on the days where he felt the most pain and felt the most weak, his love and joy could not be shaken.
It’s still tough to this day, and I don’t think the hurt is ever completely removed. But we have sweet memories to give us comfort.
I also find comfort in the knowledge that my Pa was a lover of Jesus. I’m a theology major, and I feel like I should know what all happens when we leave our lives on earth. I can give you some generic description of what heaven is like. But we won’t really know until we experience it ourselves. We can create our idea of Paradise, but I fully believe that anything we dream up in our heads is nothing compared to what the One has created for us in eternity.
I do know that my Pa is without sickness and suffering. That is enough for me to trust that his current residence is beautiful, peaceful, and full of the immaculate love of God.
I miss his jokes. I miss tickling his chin. I miss sleeping in between him and Granny. I miss Sunday lunches at his house. I miss him riding the lawn mower around the yard while I trailed in the Radio Flyer. I miss sitting in his lap. I miss the smell of his coffee, and I so wish I could have a cup with him right now. I miss the grip of his hands as we prayed together. I miss feeling the rough callouses on his hands formed by many years of laboring on trains and butchering meat at Power’s. I miss his birthday calls. I miss his phone calls in general. I miss his laugh. I miss him.
I was telling my cousin, Janette, how I never doubted his pride and love for his kids and grandkids. He was such a genuine person.
I know my Granny is lost without him. She is hanging in there, but he took a part of her when he left. I suppose that is how it goes when you love someone that fiercely.
I remember his funeral and visitation. It wasn’t morbid or sad. In fact, I remember that day as one filled with love and laughter with family as we recounted our memories of my sweet Pa. It would have been the type of day my Pa would have wanted us to have.
I will forever celebrate his new body that he received. One without ailments. One that is heavenly. I couldn’t tell you what it looks like, but I know it is gorgeous.
My sister got married this past April. You may be familiar with the poem:
Something old, something new,
something borrowed, something blue,
and a sixpence in her shoe.
Since my Pa could not physically be there, Janette got a charm with Pa’s picture to tie around my sister’s bouquet. I had the idea to get a sixpence minted the year Pa was born to go with it. So I got on Etsy and bought a silver sixpence minted in the UK in 1943.
It arrived in an envelope, and it was immersed in grime collected over its many years on this earth. I was able to remove all the filth with a brush, baking soda, and warm water. As I fondled the coin after having removed the evidence of its age, I thought about how much the coin and my Pa had in common beyond their birth dates.
Just like the coin, my Pa no longer wore the burdens, stains, and dust of this world. He was made new. He now shines as brightly as the finest silver, if not brighter! That is something to rejoice about!
Right now, I have a dear friend back home who is experiencing the same type of loss. She just lost her grandpa rather unexpectedly on Thursday night. I wish my words were eloquent enough to ease the hurt in her heart, but I know only the Lord’s embrace can cushion that blow. So Stephens family, I am praying for y’all. Praying that y’all will be given peace that passes understanding and strength to carry you through his time.
To my family: I wish I could be there to remember Pa and love on each one of you to help make the day a little easier. Just know I am praying and thinking of all of you as we observe an anniversary that forever changed us. But I think the absolute best way to honor my Pa’s memory is to continue to live my life to its fullest. So I will try not to be too sad today, but to live in joy for the life that was my Pa’s and the life that is mine right now.
I shared this quote two years ago after I found out that my Pa had left this life and entered rest before his journey to the next life.
“They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies.” -William Penn
I see this in the way we all still love my Pa so much. I know how much he loved us when he was here, and I know it is still alive in our memories. I also know that the prayers he prayed are getting answered and will continue to be answered, even though it has been two years or so since he last uttered a prayer in the flesh.
As I sit Indian style, a tear drop hits my ankle as I type these last few words.
If you are missing someone, that’s okay. Just try to remember the good that came from their existence and remember that they are just a sweet memory away. ❤