Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Room

Today is my siblings and my first Father’s Day without our dad; he passed away in August of 2009.

This week I forgot reality for just a brief moment and was about to write “buy Dad a Father’s Day card” on my to do list. But then I stopped in my tracks. And I cried.

The tears were a mingling of sadness and joy--sadness because he’s gone and joy because there’s no need for Hallmark cards in heaven.

I would like to honor Dad’s memory today by posting a piece my sister, Ruth, wrote shortly after his death.

THE ROOM

I hate this room. It feels like a prison.

It is at the end of the hall in this sprawling, brick building. There is one wide window looking down on a busy street, so close I feel as though I could disappear down into the incoming cars, my eyes mesmerized by the constant motion three stories down. I am reluctant to look around the room anyway; it is bleak, sterile, confining.

The door is always left half open and escape is easy, always within reach. And yet I still keep coming here day after day. Free to come and go, yet still I sometimes stay around the clock. Something compels me to be here waiting. There is only one thing worth focusing my attention on and it is in the exact center of this hateful room.

A man on a bed. Dying. My father.

So I am here. I’m tethered in my mind to the lines of tubes and needles surrounding the still form. Others are around, too—sisters, brothers, mother. We have been pulled from our frenzied days to be glued together by invisible cords, unspoken words, restless thoughts, teeming with tension in the stifling air of a hospice room.

We send quick looks of encouragement to each other, give an occasional hug, discuss the future without seeming to be affected by gloomy emotions. There is even laughter at times, rather beautiful, lingering in the air, hovering over us all like a mantle of soothing comfort.

Nurses come and go, checking the numerous pieces of equipment, then tiptoe out. We are alone again, attempting to keep a flow of normal tones and conversation going while watching the bed, checking for any movement, any change, the rise of the chest, up and down.

He is still with us. We lean back. Try not to think.

But so many thoughts assault our weary minds. When will the dreaded moment come? Why does death have to enter this physical realm and snatch his presence from us? Why?

Death is here. Unseen. Invading our territory. Pressing in. Backing off. Stepping ever so lightly but marring the mind with persistent stabs of pain and doubt. It is gloating over its power to wrack the body with slow torture, pouring forth lies of destruction, aimed at the core of one’s very soul—mine and Dad’s.

But in the quiet moments that tick on and on, I sense that his spirit has held up; it has clung to the only Truth ever known. The Great I Am stands between him and the destroyer like a mighty rock, impenetrable, exuding permanent peace in the presence of utter darkness.

It would seem to the natural mind that defeat is rounding the home stretch, the finish line is in view. The decaying body has been stripped of all energy and vitality; how in the name of God will it survive? The fear of the infinite unknown rises up in me, leaving my emotions tossing about in huge drafts of hopeless longing. It strikes at everyone here.

We have no firm knowledge of what Life will be like for him. Only staunch faith holds us up now. We resolutely fasten our limited mental ability to this absolute belief that God is all and in all. He will not fail. He will not forsake, for the Bible tells me so and Dad has lived it so—for us all. His past years of leading us through the lessons of living have instilled in us his confidence—that eternity is absolutely above and beyond what we could ask or think.

Somehow he has gently conveyed to me over the years that though we are weak, He is strong. I never need doubt because Dad has lived the agony and truth of that living Word, lived it with all his guts, hung with a bulldog bite to the hand of his Lord.

So when I am so very weak, I will remember this wonderful mandate, “For my light affliction which is but for a moment works for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Those serious words ring true of his constant goal and hope—to live for the things which are not seen but eternal. Priceless.

Suddenly blessed peace presses through the emotional tumult of The Room. It so softly enters this place where we wait—flowing through and filling every particle of air and dust floating around and through us, altering the natural atmosphere of human sorrow which we mortals suffer in the final hours of seeing a loved one pass.

Away from us and unto Him. “Dust unto dust.” The ancient command becomes a bulwark of celestial hope.

My father will be gone, very soon. Gone for good from my eyes, my arms, the arms that long to be held in the safe haven of his love. Love that I have known since a child, always present for me, so beautifully given. Godlike in its unalterable acceptance of me.

Now I believe I see his footprints stretching out toward the Milky Way like tiny pricks of golden light, helping me recognize the trail home, littered with bits of hope, faith and love, released from many years of his faithful care over me. He is still guiding my path on a sure foundation where there is none. . . nothing but black, heavy deeps of endless space.

One day when I head out to follow his pioneering trail, faint to the human eye but blazing vividly to my trembling soul, I will know it has been humbly tread upon by one who has overcome the frailty of human form to gladly change over into a spiritual being of everlasting life and joy. This is my constant joy. Thank you, Dad.

And finally, swiftly running, racing, tumbling toward immense and compelling grace I will call out, “Dad, I’m home!” Then I’ll see the massive door of heaven swing forth and his answer will pull my waiting soul into vast eternity.

The familiar voice reply, mingling with exquisite harmony in a victorious song of our dear Lord, “Enter into our paradise, beloved child. The journey is done.”

12 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

lifebythecreek said...

That is one of the most powerful pieces of writing that I've ever read. Such a testimony to who your father was and to who your Father is. My dad was aching to go home, and even though his death was sudden, we had peace far sooner than I would have imagined. I know he is where he longed to be, and I know that when we meet again, no one can ever tear us apart. That's what faith will buy you, and it's priceless. You're in my prayers today, Becky; this past year has taken so much from you, and yet.... I do believe it has given you more than it's taken. Or rather, HE has given you more....
{{{Hugs}}}

Anonymous said...

This is my 18th year without my father. We just gathered for my great nephews birthday you was born 13 years on the day he died. I k now how you feel. But also realize they are spending fathers day with the best Father of them all.

Hugs from Iowa,

Ann Martin said...

This is our first Father's Day without Daddy as our Daddy also died in August 2009 just days before your Dad. Tears have flowed this entire week but I am rejoicing to know he is well and no pain. Could not sing in the choir for the special today. The song was "Big Shoes to Fill" with a DVD. I sat with Mama and she asked, "Are you all right?" As the tears flowed I said, "Yes" and she looked at me and said, "No." God is good and looking at the cards was oh, so difficult. I was blessed in that I got one and took it to the gravesite. I taped it on his headstone and told him I love and miss him. You are too far away, Becky, for that but I was glad to be able to do it. Praying for you today and tomorrow with the "last fill up."

Anonymous said...

This is my 37th Father's Day without my dad, I lost him when I was 11 years old. I must admit that I haven't even read your entire entry yet, I need to be in the right frame of mind to do it. This year also was the very first Mother's Day without my mom, so it is especially hard this year passing these holidays. I just wanted to tell you that I know exactly how you feel.

P.S. - your website keeps coming up on my anti-virus scan as a "dangerous" website. I refuse to click the "fix it" button, because I don't want to stop visiting your site. Do you know why this is happening? I am mostly a lurker, but I really enjoy your writing and reading about your wonderful family.

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