Dear Dad,

Dear Dad,

You’ve been gone from this earthly life for 365 days. Some days it feels fresh and others I even forget you’re gone and it catches me off guard. Because our relationship was difficult for the last few years of your life and our interactions intermittent and emotional, I’m beginning to think my grief processing was delayed. It has been felt a great deal more over these last few months. I have been confused. It’s alarmed me because it comes in strange ways. I have been making choices out of sadness or fear, but also beginning to use those experiences for finding paths towards self-improvement, which I think you would be pleased with and want me to continue. 

To know you’re gone forever here is strange. Recently I could picture and almost feel what it was like to hug you. It was eery and so very sad for my little girl spirit. As most people say, whether in real life or in the movies, I do wish I could hug you one more time; to move your glasses away from your neck and hear you say, “I love ya” in my ear. I can see the tanned skin of your scruffy cheek and feel the firm stomach pressed on me as we hugged. Dad, if I knew that snowy day last January would be the last time I’d get to hug you, I would have stayed for hours. I would have asked you so many questions and just snuggled up next to you on the couch. 

I really miss what could be. Just today when I visited the post office, I saw a little girl with her Papa. A couple of weeks ago I stopped a grandpa in the grocery store that was with his granddaughter to tell him how wonderful it was that he could spend this time with her. Dad, you would have been such a wonderful Grampy! You would have loved to sit on the couch and let my little Rachel entertain you. She would dance and sing and you would get that grin that let me know that you were content and so happy. My sweet boy is playing basketball and I know you would be at his games and watch with pride. You would shoot hoops with him in the driveway. You missed so much before you left and I’m sad to think of all you will continue to miss.

You met God through hard times while you were here. I think you are there with Him now and are sensing His pleasure in you, regardless of any and all mistakes you made here. I believe you are with your brother, Steve, and that you gave him a tight hug when you first arrived. I believe you are with your Mother and that she is so beautiful that you are somehow seeing her with new eyes. I believe you are at rest; oh, that amazing, soothing and freeing rest that we both crave. Although I have sorrow that comes because of what could have been, I have hope that I will get to hug you again someday. Plus, there’s still laughter to be had. When I first started this letter, I had a typo and initially wrote, “Dead Dad”. That’s funny right there. 

I miss you, Dad. 

April Kingdom Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven.

When I sat down to write this morning’s prayer, my mind naturally drifted to my Dad, who just left this earth to be with you, Lord. I don’t know exactly what happens after death or what it looks like and it often leaves me feeling strange and a little uneasy. I make no claims to be bible savvy and don’t know how specific it gets when describing the immediate afterlife. Funerals and health scares gets one thinking about these types of things and for good reason. It does encourage envy in me sometimes of those already gone because when pain and failure hits, I want the ease of something other than this life. Jesus prayed that you, God, are in heaven and that You have a plan. If I’m choosing to believe that the Jesus of the Bible is honest and true, then I’m choosing to believe this prayer, given to Jesus’ disciples, is guaranteeing to us that this earth is not all there is, that You are worthy of honor and that You intend for much more. This morning I lift up in prayer to you the families that have lost someone they love and are wondering about the mystery and what comes after that last breath. I also pray for those of us hurrying about our days with little to no thought of death. My prayer is that you will hold us in a way that we can feel the sorrow and also practice the trusting in there being something greater.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lord, what about that anger I feel? Anger over the power of words and anger over things out of my control. Anger that I don’t feel how I want to feel. Death and loss is hard enough, but having other feverish emotions grabbing ahold of the coat tails of grief feels plain tacky. Lord, help us to separate ourselves from the strong emotions that we often wear like reading glasses. Help us to step back and see them as something that could be getting in the way of a healthy perspective, a gentle response, or a kind attitude. When we see and feel pain caused by others words and actions, please give us space to separate from those, too; to see that others’ sin and mistakes do not define them and that we can choose forgiveness and grace regardless of how we feel about it. You tell us to forgive just as you do and I know that it can only be done with Your help.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

The movies I see and headlines I read give me pause as I consider what I truly believe. Wouldn’t it be easier to agree with this or that? Wouldn’t it feel freeing to escape the confines of my everyday life and explore one more adventurous and tempting? What truly is right and wrong? How much do we rely on generational “rules” or uptight guidelines that are never mentioned or implied in Your Word and that cause us to unnecessarily judge others? Are we falling prey to people pleasing that leads to jumping on the trendy bandwagon without too much thought or prayer? Stop us in our tracks before we make that comment or that choice, pass that gossip, or assume the worst in others.  

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.