This is not the original post I started a while ago. If it was, the beginning would have read:
About 5 weeks ago, I had a scare. My 93-year-old father fell and broke a hip. The break itself was repaired without too much trouble. And while there have been some tough times, he seems to be on the mend and looking forward to going home at some time.
I was then going to wonder a bit if those who have lost someone to death find it difficult during the holidays. Even if the loss was not anywhere near Christmas, do they experience a hole in their celebration? I was going to wonder about that because while I had experienced some losses, I still had my wife, both of my parents and all of my children.
Well now it is almost 7 weeks since my father fell and tonight the message here has changed. We saw my father about 6:30 pm and he was talking about being ready to go home. He was upbeat, happy, and had eaten a good supper.
About 7:30 pm we received a call from my brother saying there was a problem at the rehab center. My father had collapsed on the way to the bathroom. By the time we arrived God had chosen a better home destination for my father. And now I know what it is to have a hole in my life and am fully expecting there to be one in my Christmas celebration this year.
This is all still pretty fresh as I write this about 6 hours or so since my father died, but I don’t feel it will necessarily be memories of my father and Christmas that make me feel the loss.
My wife shared that she keeps a broken pocket watch from her father. Even though it no longer keeps time, it brings back years of memories spent with him. With her mother, it was a certain sweatshirt that she always wore. Or the fact that her mother always made sure there was eggnog for the family during this time of the year.
We know a couple whose daughter was challenged throughout her life with various physical issues. God took her to heaven fairly early in life. I am guessing there a multitude of people, places, events or simple objects that bring back the loss and remind them there is a hole left by their daughter’s change of address to live with her Savior.
So what are those memories that will make this loss so real for me? Maybe each time I bump my head on a cupboard door I will see him and his ever-present forehead bruises. Or when I pass a doughnut shop I will remember the box of doughnuts that always seemed to grace the kitchen counter.
As I sing hymns in church, the memory of his many years in choir may push out a few tears–ok, rivers. Seeing my kids and their children may also remind me of the pure joy I saw on my father’s face as they came to visit him. And along with that joy came his selective blindness as he watched their usually spotless home become strewn with countless toys. Oh, how he loved to watch them play.
Yes, those memories will come and in their shadows, some sadness and loss for me. I grieve now and will feel loss in the future. However, I will not feel hopeless or abandoned by my father. I know what God in his love shared in his Word.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you do not grieve in the same way as the others, who have no hope. Indeed, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then in the same way we also believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 (EHV)
My father is in heaven. The faith he had in Jesus’ death on the cross and the forgiveness freely given to him makes that a certainty. One day, his body will come out of the grave to be rejoined with his soul, now celebrating in heaven. And someday I will join him because of that same gift of faith and forgiveness.
But there will be a hole in my life for some time. And maybe that is a good thing because it is a sign that my father was still a part of my life even after 66 years of my life. He was a gift that God gave to me and so many others in this world. And now, with all the tasks accomplished that God entrusted to him and him alone, my father was able to go home, forever. Thank you, God, and see you later, Dad!
June 19, 1925–November 28, 2018
I discovered this song before God gifted my father with a heavenly home. If you have never watched any of the videos I post here, and yes, I post a lot of them, I would encourage you listen to “The Sweetest Gift.” The message is so reassuring to all Christians whether or not you have a hole in your holiday this year–because someday you may.