I was acutely aware of my need for my dad to stay, and yet I was grateful, even jealous, of the peace he had finally achieved.
“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”
After we buried him we did comfort ourselves with the knowledge that he didn’t want to leave us. He had not lived out his life to the fullest extent reasonably possible. He still worked and loved and planned. He told us he didn’t want to die.
Of course we comforted ourselves in the knowledge that he went to Heaven and will never suffer again, but in those first weeks, even the first months, it was hard to hear people use that as a primary means of comfort. Our greatest desire was to have him with us, and thinking of his joy away from us stung and felt hurtful. If I rehearsed his happiness to myself, he seemed more distant than ever because of our sadness.
Day by day and then week by week and now month by month, we have learned about grieving. I have learned some people use all the trite phrases, others give difficult advice, others somehow know just what to say. Still others say nothing.
Every word runs up against our eyes and into our minds where sometimes it’s rejected, sometimes embraced.
All comfort offered is appreciated on this level: the giver is showing love.
I read a blog post by a man whose wife had passed away. He mentioned that it helps the griever to hear about their loved one being pain free and happy in Heaven. Again, even heading into the 10th month, this makes my stomach feel a little sick. I long for my dad to talk to me again, a leader, counselor, friend. I can’t hear from him though, so I listen to his voice in my head and hear what he used to tell me.
This morning I was reading Philippians and these verses cracked open like dam on my heavy heart. It was a flood of strong emotion coming from Paul, and applied its strength to my dad and those last weeks when he knew he didn’t want to leave us.
It’s all very simple.
Trite even, I’ve read it so many times.
But I have new eyes now and see old passages through the lens of grief. How comforting for Paul’s spiritual children to know, “he doesn’t want to leave us, he knows we need him.”
My dad knew I needed him. But here I am, walking without him on earth.
Reading these verses, considering Paul’s open thought process, was like pulling a favorite, warm coat out of the familiar closet. A large coat with enough length in the arms, and heavy against the freezing wind. As I put it on, it was as if I was seeing for the first time a lovely paisley print lining inside the coat adding beauty to its usefulness.
There was even more depth in these verses than I’d originally understood.
In this way, opening my eyes to see in His Word my dad’s heart mirrored, I see God’s care and comfort.