10.13.2013

Cycle of Life


On the cover of The Chicago Sun-Times today I can find headlines about the Chicago Marathon, Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade changing, Malala, Gun rights, The Cubs, GOP and Dems. It's in the Obits section I scan the towns to look for my father's name. Steven. I never knew if his official spelling was Stephen or Steven. Now I know.

None of the news for today really seems to matter. He doesn't get to read it. He is gone.

Someone who created me is gone, now. Despite not knowing him well, it still hurts. Staring in the face of the cycle of life feels pretty heavy at times.

I feel sad for the way the end of his life happened with poor health, cancer, and pain. I feel sad for what I never had with him - a strong relationship- and the hope of trying to catch up on any small portion of lost time coming to a close.

During the sacrament hymn at church today Mike grasped my hand and pointed to the words we were singing with the congregation:
Lord, we come before thee now; At thy feet we humbly bow.
Do not thou our suit disdain; Shall we seek thee, Lord, in vain?

Send some message from thy word; That may joy and peace afford.
Comfort those who weep and mourn; Let the time of love return.

Grant we all may seek and find; Thee, our gracious God, and kind.
Heal the sick; the captive free. Let us all rejoice in thee.

"Lord, We Come Before Thee Now"
by William Hammond, 1719-1783

*****

Normally the children seated between us to prevent fighting, but Mike rearranged the kids so he was sitting next to me.

"Liz, this song reminded me of your dad. Your dad got to meet The Savior. Isn't that amazing?" Mike leaned in and whispered in my ear.

We locked eyes for several moments and smiled, thinking of the joy of such an incredible moment. Imagining my father comforted by The Savior took my breath away. None of us on earth are perfect, Christ has made up the difference for each of us. I have known that much of my life, but today I felt the power of what that means for my father right now. And it consumed me with peace.

I didn't get to learn a lot from my father directly and I resented that when I was young. But today I realized that my experience being his daughter gave me the opportunity to learn the beauty and peace that comes with forgiveness. Although I had limited communication with him, I know I had the opportunity to feel unconditional love for him and from him. Wow, I have to tell you that is like no other gift.

They say time is different in heaven- years on earth might be like the blink of an eye in heaven.

See you soon, dad! Can you pull some strings so I can meet John Candy when I get there?

10.11.2013

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,
Just this morning you left peacefully in your sleep. I felt a rush of numbness when I read the news from Amy, then talked Lisa and cried. She made me feel better like only a big sister can. I am grateful for the on-line communication we had and phone conversations in recent months. I wrote a letter 6 days ago I never posted........

***

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Dear Dad,

I never stopped wondering about you growing up. I tried to imagine what it would be like to see you every day. I imagined the sports we would play together and created an image in my mind that has never left me. I daydreamed of this image often when bored at school or alone in my room wishing you were the one sitting in the living room. I always felt a part of me was missing; distant and incomplete. You were that part of me. Unknown. Unreachable.

I remembered that image I created as a girl last night clear as day. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I remember it and I want to paint it for you with my words.

We are standing in a field on a slightly breezy day. We are playing catch, but I cannot see the type of ball we are using. Is it a baseball? Football? Tennis ball? There are no other items around us or in our hands and the kind of ball doesn’t matter. It’s just me and you and we are smiling. There is a soft golden glow and there are tall stalks of yellow grass waving in the soft wind around us. I am very young, maybe 5 years old, and I am wearing an old fashioned dress that also flies gently in the breeze along with my hair. I see no trees around and we are both so happy and carefree. You are also young maybe in your 20s with a genuine smile.  It’s such a safe place; happy and endless in time.

When I went to see you for the first time that my memory can recall, I was 17. You told me you always loved me and missed me terribly. I believed you. I felt it when you said it. You told me a song always made you think of us by Eric Clapton called ‘Tears in Heaven’.  You wondered if we would know you if we saw you in heaven. 
With your health declining and the end of your time on earth approaching faster than any of us would like, I just know it’s going to be like my image when I see you next. We will get to make up for lost time. Time will be endless and we will be smiling. And playing catch, apparently.

10.03.2013

Dear Dad: Vol. 3

Dear Dad,

Today all the kids went with Mike and I to the hospital for his radiation treatment. His tumors are on his optic nerve, so the treatment is 5 minutes long. It's week two and he is starting to feel more sick, tired, and dizzy. We can't begin to imagine what your radiation feels like with 4 tumors in your brain and the others in your body that require radiation. I wish I was nearby so I could bring you some lemon candies and sit with you to visit. I wonder if your food has been tasting funny, too. Mike has been reporting this week that everything tastes like soap or metal. He tries to chew strong flavored gum to get rid of the taste. A nutritionist met with him today briefly and gave him a list of flavors that might be okay. They are: mint, citrus flavors, strong marinades like Italian seasoning for chicken, fresh veggies are some of them. Milkshakes have been tasting great to him, too.

Tonight we had chicken in the crock pot with an Italian dressing packet, cream cheese, and cream of chicken soup. Mike said it was the best meal he's tasted in 2 weeks. This is from a man who is a big food snob (I say this lovingly) who is truly mourning the loss of his ability to taste the way one would mourn the loss of a loved one. I told him to buck up because my dad's got 5 times the problems being radiated. I didn't tell him that really, but I thought it would crack you up to type it.

The kids are so happy to get hot chocolate from some fancy machine while they wait for their dad. There is a big fish tank I remind them 40 trillion times to not tap on. There was another kid there today who played with an old community toy shopping cart. When he pushed it around the lobby it made a squeaking sound as bad as stabbing forks in my ears and twisting them. Luckily my three kids distracted him by filling 62 million cups of water at the cooler.

In the evening it was a balmy 90 degrees out, so Evan and I played baseball in a grassy field by my house. I thought of you and how proud you would be of each of your grandkids for various reasons. For Evan it would be his toughness with sports and natural ability to throw like The Incredible Hulk. He has your deep voice and your bright blue eyes. His father is his very best friend and favorite person in the world. He is a master pro at building things (Legos or puzzles or wooden train tracks). He has this natural ability to sense if someone is not feeling well and would be the first to hug a stranger having a bad day. He's also one to turn on a dime if things don't go his way and was the only one to cry when the pet hamster with giant testicles died. He is truly one of those Big Teddy Bear types.

Tell Grandma hello for us. I will call this week to speak with you both.

Love,
Liz

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