“Abrígame Señor” was written on the Snoopy pin he gave me in highschool. “Cover me, Lord,” it meant, or keep me safe, keep me warm.
I put the pin on a light jacket I had permanently borrowed from his closet (long enough arms). I stopped wearing the jacket long ago, but the Spanish saying has lingered. I needed its truth, and I took comfort from the promise it seemed to assume. Snoopy is also my favorite Peanuts character. I have the pin somewhere still in my keepsakes and have thought of it more often in the last few months than ever before.
Soon I’ll be going up for the second reality.
In the first reality, I did and saw and lived what was happening to my family, my birth family and also my own husband and children. I saw my dad deteriorating rapidly, so rapidly maybe it felt like the time he sailed through the air down a snowy mountain and crashed at the foot of it and thereby obtained a crushed lower spine. He got up from that and went on to live four more decades. This time he crashed and got up, but not to live any more decades or even another full day. He lived out the day after standing and walking for the last time, and then sat down never to get up again.
When I left Montana I assumed I would absorb the reality bit by bit, but as the days open and close rapidly bringing my flight closer, I realize the second reality is going to be heavier than the first. Fear and dread and horror are seeping under the door of my heart and taking hold.
How can I prepare for this when everything about him is painful to contemplate? Rather than think too deeply about a particular memory or aspect of his legacy or possessions he left behind or his present state, my mind glides over each compartmentalized area of his life while also being consumed with everything about him. It’s surface attention, a waterfall of thoughts that never stand still for close perusal. Until I do think more deeply. Then there are tears and a sense of confusion and the inability to comprehend.
When I go to Montana and, in essense, look for him myself, he won’t be there.
The strong sense of denial I feel probably doesn’t come through in that last sentence. He can’t not be there. When I let this thought engulf me, I am engulfed with something that must be shock. He’s always been there. We’ve spent months and years apart, but we always meet again. It is not possible to fathom his complete physical, audible absence.
Last night we went to a bar-b-q given by dear friends from church. Near the end of the evening our hostess brought out several gift bags. I was surprised when she handed one to me as well as her two daughters and her sister. Inside were several items including this notebook. I read the cover and knew it was no coincidence. “He will cover you…”
“I thought it would be nice for your trip because it has clasps to keep it closed,” she said.
Yes indeed, I thought and thanked her but couldn’t bring the words to explain why this particular book cover was astonishingly poignant. That she chose this one was not a choice she made without God’s influence, I have no doubt.
Twice in the last week or so I have texted my mom about the mounting dread I have of finding my dad missing from his house. It might seem thoughtless to text his widow these kinds of fears, but we have always communicated well, my mom and I. I have come to voice many of her own thoughts in this grieving process, and from childhood she has been my confidante.
“I know it’s going to be hard for you,” she answers. “We live here, and it’s still hard for us to believe. I have been praying for you, especially about this.”
“Cover me, Lord,” I think, and He uses my mother to provide my shelter.
Even when talking to God I can’t use the dreaded “d” words. I can’t imagine that He let my dad leave me in this way. And yet, He is my solace. Not my enemy; thankfully by His grace my sanity is intact in that regard. God is not my enemy taking my loved one from me to punish me.
He is the Good Shepherd.
He walks with me.
He covers me.
Psalm 91:4 (KJV, to me a love language soothing my soul)
“He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust:
His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”
My dad loved nothing better than the truth, and even though this is not a truth I want, God is with me. He doesn’t cast me to the wolves or to the devil, a roaring lion. I feel like I’m going to be devoured by grief and horror when he is truly not there! Nowhere to be found at all in all of Big Sky Country!
But God is my refuge.
He never shades the truth to protect His children.
He has been with me since the beginning of this Valley of the Shadow of Death.
And He will be with me as I enter into the second reality.