...was the last time I saw my dad alive.
Has it really been a year? Some days, it feels like just yesterday. Others, it feels like a lifetime, and I look at the next 50 years with such dread. This world is not my home. That has been made crystal clear to me since August 25, 2009. Oct. 20, 2011 was just our reaffirmation of that fact.
A year ago this weekend, my parents, myself, and Collen went to Jeremy's football game. My dad was so, so proud of Jeremy and those boys. They won that night, and the smile on my dad's face was priceless when that clock ticked down to zero. He was thrilled for Jeremy. Thrilled for his team. Just beaming with pride. He loved sharing those moments with Jeremy.
A year ago this weekend, I spent Friday-Sunday with my parents. This was rare because my dad worked out of town a lot. I had gotten used to not seeing him consistently and spending a lot of time with my mom. That weekend, though, daddy was home, and we happened to have a lot of family events going on that allowed us to spend a lot of time together. In hindsight - I see that that was completely God. Of course, I didn't know then that that would be my last weekend with my dad, but I remember making a point to soak it all up and cherish those moments.
A year ago today, my dad helped work on Collen's swing set. We went to church together as a family. We laughed - a lot. We watched Collen being super cute. We all went out to eat dinner as a family. And...unusual for my dad...he didn't rush out to get back home. Jeremy had gone to a meeting, so my parents came back to our house with me so I wouldn't come home to an empty house. My dad helped me dress Collen for bed. We whispered and laughed together as we both changed his diaper and his clothes. I'm sure daddy called Collen "Papa's man" one last time before kissing him goodnight. And as my dad walked out the door, I stopped him to give him one more hug, "just in case." I had done that a lot a year ago around this time. Something kept tugging at my heart saying, "Tell him you love him, Lindsay. Hug him. Cherish these moments with your dad. Soak him in." It had become typical for me to hug him several times before leaving "just in case." Daddy caught on, and he would say, "I'm not going anywhere." Oh, how I wish that had been true.
I still have moments when I forget. It feels like he has been away on business....for a very long time. I still live with that anticipation of, "I'm going to see him soon. I'll see him tomorrow when he comes home." But tomorrow never comes. I still go to call him some days. I'll get off the phone with my mom and have the overwhelming urge to talk to him because I always called him on my way home from work after I called my mom.
I want to tell him all the funny things Collen is doing and saying, and I want to tell him how beautiful and sweet his granddaughter is. I want to hug him and have his arms wrapped around me because there is no place safer than wrapped in your father's arms. The little girl in me - at 28 years old - would still have the urge to run and jump into my dad's arms whenever I saw him. In those moments, the world was just a little less scary. I miss that so much. I miss the security, safety, and peace I found while in his presence. I miss the connection we shared. I just miss him...
He was one of a kind. One of those people who made everyone he met feel special and loved. He never knew a stranger - one of the friendliest people you could ever know. There was no mistaking that he was a man of faith because he lived it and spoke it every day. It seems cruel to take a man like that away from his family and out of the world so soon - a man who, in our minds, still had so much work left to do...so many lives left to touch. But God saw that his work was finished.
Your prayers and thoughts are appreciated as we reach the one year mark October 20th. It isn't easier. I know that from experience - it doesn't get easier. The hope, though, get sweeter as each day passes and we are one day closer to being together again. I had 28 years with my dad. Some people don't get that. I'm thankful for those, and even more thankful that I didn't waste those years. I knew how blessed I was. I knew that I had a treasure in the man I called "Daddy." And I didn't take a second for granted.