A Painful Journey Back

The pain of grief is like labor pangs. You remember them, but you don’t FEEL their depth, their intensity, until the next contraction hits. Those precious few minutes between contractions give you time to catch your breath, to get your bearings back, to start to feel safe… then BANG. From seemingly out of nowhere, the next one hits you.

At least birth gives you the gift of a child. Death gives you no such gift.

Tonight, I was driving and Cochren & Co’s song, One Day came on. One day there’ll be no more lives taken too soon. One day there’ll be no more need for a hospital room. And I was taken back. Taken back to that day in late July, 2019. In a room at Sunnyside Hospital. With my dad and my stepmom. My dad, looking all handsome and tan from our recent camping trip and his frequent walks at the river. Him wearing a hospital gown in a pattern of different shades of green. My hair was down and crazy, I wore a purple hoodie. The nurse with the maroon New Balance sneakers came in and gave us the news, kindly, but matter-of-factly. The cancer had spread. There was nothing to be done.

My gosh. It feels so fresh. I swear I can hear the squeak of those sneakers. I can hear the beeps of the machines down the hall. I remember the exact hallway I stood in, and the window I stopped by when I had to tell my aunt the news. I knew she was hiding in a closet at work. I can hear her pain coming through my phone.

But the tears that come now, didn’t come then.

I don’t know if it was acceptance. Maybe it was ignorance. There was peace in the room. It was heavy. Somber maybe. My dad still joked. His best friends came to visit. I think we knew this was the end, but we didn’t know what to do with that. Like Slime in the hands of a potter that so desperately wants to mold something beautiful, but no shape would hold.

I’ve been doing ‘good’ lately. I haven’t felt burdened by grief in quite some time. I miss my dad but more of a ‘darn, Dad’s not here to go walk at the river’ or ‘Dad would be so proud of what I did’ kind of way. Not the falling into the deep chasm of loss and uncontrollable sobbing. This came out of nowhere. Completely unexpected. I’ve heard grief is like this. You’d think I’d be prepared. I’m virtually positive that nothing can prepare me for these moments.

I’m reading Beth Moore’s Chasing Vines. On page 123, she says, “I want to know what to expect. I want to find a good groove and have God stick to it. I forget that as the Author, He has the right to take the script on any twists and turns He desires. He alone knows how the story line has to go to reach its appointed objective. He alone knows what chapter He’s on and how close He is to the finish.”

It’s so crazy to think that my dad’s story had reached its appointed objective, and his dying, his leaving me, is all part of the bigger plan of eternity, and that God works all things together for good. I honestly, 100% believe the truth in this, but it sure is hard to embrace. I’m believing it the same way I believe the world is round even though I’ve never traveled around it; that the sun is millions of miles away yet still gives us the warmth we need to survive; that the moon affects the oceans’ tides. It takes faith. It all takes faith.

Even though being back in that hospital room sparked a waterfall of tears, a stuffy nose, and a late night that will lead to a rough morning… It also made me feel close to my dad. I can feel his love. I can feel his peace. I would’ve rather been anywhere other than that hospital room and at the same time, I wouldn’t have chosen to be anywhere else.