April 24 will mark 15 years since my Dad left this earth. I’m barreling toward my 30th birthday this year, the same way a meteor seems to speed toward Earth, it’s hard to believe that it’s now been half of my life. Every year, the date on the calendar inches closer and I once again find myself asking how I feel about it all. I momentarily think about it and then say “the same” only to carry on about my day.
I have always been open about the type of relationship I had with my Dad, not because I feel sorry for myself or want others to, but because the entire thing -from start to finish- was instrumental in making me who I am today.
But perhaps I just think I feel “the same” about it all because, on the surface it seems to be the same, but in reality, it is not.
I believe in the stages of grief, I just don’t believe there is an order to those stages or that
people must conform to the expectations of progression in order to successfully heal. I know I have healed and I know I’ve accepted the path that was chosen for him, for me, and for our family. Unfortunately, the death of my dad was the ignition of a decade-long firestorm among me and my siblings that left figuratively – and quite literally – just ashes. That’s another story for another day, or perhaps my book, but my acceptance of it all surprises me. For as much as I ask ‘Why?’ in my professsional life now, it often surprises me that I don’t spend time asking ‘Why?’ in my personal life. But I don’t – at least not about my family. That’s healing.
I’ve been blessed with the ‘matter of factness’ of it all, understanding that this is just how it was, how it is, and how it’s going to be. As vacant as it may sound, God did not leave those holes empty. I believe it has transformed how I see so many of the others in my life.
Over the years, a handful of people have been placed in my life to guide me in ways I feel sure my dad would have had he been here. Some did so voluntarily and intentionally, others without even knowing they were doing it. During those moments in time, I don’t think I was able to recognize the purpose of those people in my life for their season, but when I consider the landscape now, it is ever so clear.
God’s plan for my life was undoubtedbly to grow up without my Dad but His plan did not leave me without someone to fill that vacancy. Because of my faith and the strength of the structure around me, I have not gone without.
I would never say it was better this way. Of course, we all wish things were the storybook picture we learn about as naive children, but because it wasn’t….isn’t…won’t be…the positive in it all is that the guidance that was provided and the messages that have been delievered were well-received because of the people around me that I trust.
I know my faults in my stubborness and my hard-headedness – both of which come from my Dad. Maybe all along God knew who was best-suited to deliver those lessons to me and that’s why those people were placed before me – like markers on a trail. Go this way.
We, as humans, spend a lot of time in our lives focusing on what we are missing, what we are leaving behind, and how much we should be rewarded for doing “without.” It’s possible we think we are doing so great with so little, but we actually have so much more than we see on the surface.
The blessing of my healing is that, despite the downfalls of my relationship with my dad and the true turmoil it created and left behind, I barely see that. I’m able to cherry pick the positives and remember the blissful child-like memories when I think of him: the model-rocket building, the treasure hunts he used to create around the house for my mom, the ridiculous jokes I thought were real-life stories. I’m also able to see, with clarity, the value of the people placed in my life.
Because God doesn’t leave empty holes. God delivers.