Dear Dad: Another Birthday

Dear Dad,

I’ve been hesitating (maybe avoiding) writing you. Over the last two weeks, I’ve had more days than not where I wake up missing you. Or find myself looking forward to going to Connecticut to see you. It’s bizarre that my brain just can not accept that you’re really not here even though it’s been almost two years.

It’s your birthday today, which means it’s my birthday next week. My birthdays just aren’t the same without getting to celebrate yours, too. The best part of my birthday was sharing the week ahead of it with you.

A few weeks ago, our pastor gave a sermon on the commandment “honor your father and mother” a few weeks ago and I cried through the whole thing. Thank you for being a man that was/is easy to honor.

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. (Proverbs 22:1 NIV)

Dad, you left us with a good name: I have always been proud to be your daughter. You also challenge me to be a parent who loves deeply, sets high standards, and gives my children an example worth following. I still wish you were here for my kids to learn those lessons from you, but I am thankful they can still benefit from your good name (according to Deuteronomy 5:10 even your great-grandchildren will be blessed!).

We lost our dear friend Joanne yesterday. We didn’t really lose her, just like we didn’t lose you; you’re both together in Heaven celebrating healing of cancer-ridden bodies. But there’s still that “pain of searing loss” that sometimes makes it feel like you’re both gone forever. Keith is good at reminding me about the “cloud of witnesses”: I love the illustration in the book of Hebrews that you, Joanne, and all the people who have gone to Heaven before us are standing and cheering us on and encouraging us to keep going:

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrews 12:1-3 MSG)

What you wanted more than anything in your life was for your family, your friends, your colleagues, and any one else you came in contact with to know that Jesus saves and changes lives. Even during your illness you encouraged me, among many others, that the race we are running is long and often difficult, but can be full of grace and peace and joy. I even started a Facebook page to continue to share my grief journey as well as what I’ve learned along the way about loss, life, and other challenging seasons. I hope you would feel honored by it.

Mom and I took Caleb and the dogs for a walk this morning. We will take Caleb on a hike later with Molly and decided it’s only fitting to celebrate your birthday with ice cream.

Thank you again for being a dad I would miss so terribly and a man I hope my son will grow up to emulate.

Love you.

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1 Comment

  1. Peggy McGowan on August 9, 2014 at 6:42 am

    A difficult time Becky – so very sorry, too, to hear about Joanne – so many challenging times along the way for you all – Thankful that you have each other and your strong faith in God that hopefully will help to ease some of your pain and sorrows. You always pay such a great tribute to your Dad AND to your Mom – clearly you are walking in their footsteps, as is Caleb. Thank you so much for sharing. Loving you.

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