For one whole month, my family has been navigating a new world, living in a new reality. One without my dad. One where the foundation stone of our family has fallen away and where we’ve been trying to stay on our feet despite the giant hole left behind.
Up until last month, the hardest thing I’d ever gone through was the 34-hour labor when my daughter was born 4 years ago, in a hospital where, amidst a slew of complications and contractions, I finally had the joy of meeting my baby girl. Last month, just down the hall from the room where my daughter took her first breath, my father took his last.
Saying a final goodbye to someone, watching them struggle and then stop, watching your family grieve around you, driving home with one less member of your family, that is the hardest thing in the world to experience. It’s only slightly harder than planning a viewing and interment and funeral. Which is only slightly harder than answering your child’s questions about where her Dawdy is, and what death means, and where heaven’s at. Which is only slightly harder than waking up each morning and remembering that someone who was such an integral part of your life is gone.
Everything reminds me of my dad. Every time I see a construction vehicle (since he worked in construction most of his life), every time I’m working at our new house (where he offered many ideas and suggestions and which I’d dearly hoped he’d see finished one day), every time we pass by our little creek (where my daughter exclaims, “This is where Dawdy fell in the water!”), every time I see the arbor he built for our wedding, and the swing he sat on with Evie, and the mints in the store that I remember him carrying, and when I drive by a truck that looks like his, and when we eat at a restaurant we’d gone to with him, and the list goes on and on.
It’s so easy to get caught up in how sad we are that he’s missing from us, but I have to keep reminding myself that he’s free at last in Heaven. My family has been blessed by so many confirmations of this, so many experiences from people and little happenings. All of these are things I believe were given to us straight from God, gifts to put our souls at peace. If my dad could come back now, I know he wouldn’t even want to. I’m so thankful for his faith in God, for the peace and joy he’s now experiencing, and for the knowledge that I’ll get to see him again one day when this life is over.
I’m so thankful for my wonderful family. It’s so much easier to navigate unsteady ground when you’re all holding on to each other, bracing each other up. My dad’s foundation stone may be gone, but luckily for us, he was a concrete expert, and every memory of him we hold dear, every time we talk about how much he meant to us, every time we remember the important lessons he taught, we’re pouring out a little bit of him back into the Earth. Like pouring concrete into the hole he left in our lives.
It’ll take a while until we fill the hole and until the concrete cures, until it’s firm and settled – and it will never be the same as the foundation stone we lost – but that concrete is the love he left behind and I know it’s strong enough to hold the weight of his whole family and loved ones as we continue to stand ourselves on it and live the joyous, full lives I know he wanted for us.
Love you, dad. Miss you forever. See you again soon.