It’s been two weeks since his funeral and I find myself this morning both in awe and…well…grieving. It’s strange how they coexist in my mind and heart.
In awe of all that happened that day. In awe of the beautiful, loving, amazing friends who changed schedules and missed work and drove distances to care for and comfort and be there for Brad and I and our kids at the funeral–they both grieved and celebrated with us. In awe of the God-honoring that took place through each song and word spoken and prayer offered and scripture read. In awe of the God who loves us and loved Dad so much that He didn’t spare even His own son so we could have a relationship with Him. In awe and amazed.
We went to church and Sunday school yesterday with my mom. I sat there, in Sunday school, increasingly agitated and finally made some lame excuse about needing to use the restroom. I couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. Walking out into the large gathering hall, I spied steely sky out a nearby exit and made a beeline. My mind racing and my heart thumping I wanted to crash through the double doors and get lost on the city streets for a while. The monochromatic gray of the concrete landscape matched my mood. Out of practicality and the knowledge that it wasn’t ok to be gone too long, I exercised restraint and just stood, looking through fingerprint smudges at the world outside. Tears welled up. Why was I so upset. Why were my insides so bristly? The speaker in Sunday school (the class Dad taught up until six weeks ago) had been kind and certainly wasn’t saying anything wrong or bad or offensive or new. But the cold hard fact was, he wasn’t my dad. In that moment, I think I missed my dad and longed for him more than I have since he left this earth. I prayed, calmed down a bit, then went seeking refuge in the church bookstore (my Dad’s favorite spot outside the sanctuary). And surrounded by Bibles and books by both living and dead authors, I saw the irony in my agitated state. Ironic because when he was alive, he and I were constantly bantering about what he was studying and what he taught. I quickly tired of his pontificating theological matters and spending so much time on questions you can never answer and never backed down from telling him so. When we love deeply and dearly, we love even the things that bug us about someone else. Poor dad. I’m sure I was a thorn in his side with my never-ending game of playing the devil’s advocate. But regardless of my contrariness, I always learned something new from him. He was smarter than me and, without a doubt, more disciplined. And here I was, on this Sunday only 18 days after his death, facing the profound loss of his great mind, diligent pursuit of Truth and his loving heart.
His loving heart.
Just moments before my mid-Sunday school panic, the great big man towered over both mom and I. His kind eyes and warm embrace were welcome, even though he was a stranger to me. Having just learned of Dad’s death, he offered his condolences to me then, looking me square in the face, with no arrogance, said “Your dad really loved me.” There was so much behind those words. I could see it. This huge, weathered veteran with the Harley jacket and skull cap had a story and Dad’s love and acceptance were part of it. He defined my Dad by his love. My heart swelled with love, admiration and pride for my dear Dad who’s welcoming smile and easy hug put every person he met at ease.
And I miss that smile.
And, though I can hardly believe I’m saying this, I even miss his hefty theological soliloquies.