Writing, to me, is synonymous with healing.
I suppose that’s why I’m here–writing–just a day after you took your last breath, Dad.
People are telling me to go lay down. Or rest. Or watch a movie. But all I want to do is write about what it was like for me. For all of us, really. As my fingers tap the keys my eyes flicker to the bracelet I have on my wrist. It’s the one you wore ever since your diagnosis last November. “No one fights alone” it says. And my spirit can’t help but agree. No one fights alone. Or loves alone. Or struggles alone. Or dies alone.
We’re all walking each other home.
It was Thursday night when I got the call that I should come. “Dad doesn’t have much time,” my teary sister said. And I knew it in my heart, even before the call came in.
But it took three days of sleeplessness, tears dripping from sore eyes, holding you up as you walked around in confusion, sponging water onto your lips, and prayers by your bedside before you took that last breath. And I realized–as soon as your labored breathing went silent and your Savior greeted you somewhere near the top of the Christmas tree, a spot I looked toward as soon as your blue eyes did, hoping I’d find him there too–that the walk is always worth it. Leaning near your still face and kissing your forehead, that’s what I said too. “It’s worth it”. Even though I want you to know my heart wasn’t feeling it, Dad. My heart screamed “Come back!” instead. Because I didn’t see Jesus near the top of the Christmas tree. My faith just had to rely on the fact he was there.
Now, digesting the memories–memories that haunt me in my dreams and awaken me from sleep with tears and a racing heart–I want you to know why I was honored to walk you home.
The walk home started on November of 1989…when I was born.
I’d like to think we chose to walk together–that before we even came to earth we knew we’d be walking in unison along with some very special others–taking on the challenge, and the joys, of mortality.
During the walk home you taught me many things. You taught me how to play. And in turn, I think I taught you patience 😉
The walk home entailed some discomforts–some trials that required me to cry in your arms or vent to you–or get so mad at you that I slammed my bedroom door. I tried to say sorry about that later on–you didn’t let me though.
During the walk home you showed me how to walk on my own at times and forge a new trail when others get to their own trail’s end. You showed me how to change oil. How to respect my body. How to be a good friend. How to listen more than I talk *although I still have problems with that*. How to put family first.
During the walk, sometimes it rained. You showed me how to play in it.
During the walk–you showed me to dance always *Even if you’re not very good at it* And to “Sing louder!” as you’d always say when you caught me humming to myself.
There were a few times on the journey I didn’t feel I was good enough. But you pushed me to bring home the A’s. To aim high. To be everything I want to be simply by living as if I’m already there. Oh–and I love that you always bragged about every single goal we met. You loved when I’d write and you’d read my blog. You hung my first poem on your cubicle wall at work and kept it there ’til you died.
During the walk you taught me what kind of man I should choose–simply by being that kind of man. And in turn you finally got the son you always wanted to have one day.
You loved my mom–even when lighting struck and rain hit and rocks in the trail made you two stumble. And that’s the greatest gift to give to a daughter.
During the walk you encouraged my sister’s restless, wandering heart. You taught her faith and courage–you nourished the light in her eyes into something much greater in her heart. She said it was all because of you, Dad.
During the walk home you taught me not to fear the trailhead coming up–the part of the walk home that splits the trail in two. The part where we would separate for a time. You told me it would come–and it was okay. Because you knew that if we kept walking, the two trails would join as one again.
During the end of the walk home I had to carry you. I held you like you held me when the dark scared me and I couldn’t sleep. I rubbed your back the way you’d rub mine when I’d sit on the floor in front on you or lay in your lap. I was strong simply because–well, so were you.
I’m sad, Dad. I miss you so bad that sometimes I can’t breathe. And when I do, it hurts my lungs. I miss you so bad that sometimes I hear your voice and jump to a start in the middle of the night. I miss you so much that I get angry that we already came to the fork in the road–sometimes I get mad at God. Sometimes I get mad at myself that I didn’t hold you a second longer the last time you hugged me.
But then I remember, like I remember now. No one walks alone.
No, even though we came to that place in the walk where the trail splits in two–I still feel you guiding my feet. I still feel the same Savior that took you home and held me at the same time. I’m not alone.
I’m honored I was one of the people to share the walk with you, Dad.
You’re my hero.
And you will be until our trails meet up again somewhere on the horizon–and I’ll meet you there at home.