Tuesday, December 23, 2014

five years later...

thoughts of him come often...

None of us had any idea how October of 2009, when he learned he had cancer, would be the start of so much change.  

But that's how it goes isn't it?  Each day can be the start of a grand change.  

He was never too fond of pictures but I forced him into them and don't regret it one bit.  

This was taken the weekend he shared the news.  He told me like it was nothing to be frightened of or surprised by.  He did not find himself to be so special as to escape cancer.  This is one of my most memorable moments from that season of life.  Yes, he and my mom had their rough days with treatment after treatment, but there was no bitterness at being given this lot.

December came.  

I had just finished up finals and made it home for his last appointment which would determine if he was all clear.  They told him he looked better than they could have expected.  He was able to ring the victory bell for patients who survived cancer.  

It was quite bittersweet to watch as a he walked through the office for the last time.  My parents and the staff had become like good friends what with all of the regular visits.  There was much joy for the healing but sadness that the visits were coming to an end.

A bit weathered from the storm as you can see but he had made it out.

Then on this very day five years ago the unexpected happened.  He collapsed and never came back to us.

We were filled with so many questions and so much struggle as we tried to understand why.  Why would he be healed and then taken away?  What could we have done to prevent this?  What were we going to do now? Lord, what is your purpose in all of this?

We have fought hard against those 'what if' questions knowing that they bring no satisfaction.

After the initial shock of things had passed I can remember desperately praying not to fall into depression.  I didn't want to be bitter and waste away my life.  Somehow I came upon Romans 5:1-5.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us

This passage carried me through so much hurt.  

I didn't want to just be void of depression though.  I wanted to be filled with joy.

James 1:2-4 kept playing over and over in my mind.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

In the days soon after his death friends would come over to visit.  Joy filled the house.  Come to find out later, they were concerned that the reality hadn't really set in.  Though there were many dark days to follow, looking back now I can say without a doubt that joy came from the Lord.  There is no other explanation.

While I do wish to have been given more time with him I know that my Lord brings about all things for my good (Romans 8:28).  That is a sure-fire promise.

I can honestly say that this has already proven true. 

Since that season these passages ring in my ears during difficult seasons.

Each year is different.  Each year brings on new thoughts of him and more memories.  

He seemed to understand and misunderstand me unlike any other person.  

When I was little we could often be found sleeping, me snuggled between him and couch, as he tried to catch up on sleep in between shifts.

I would follow him around like his shadow as he tinkered with this or that in the garage.

We would spend all morning in the kitchen on holidays cooking.  Well...he cooked and I got to observe his ways and wash the dishes so they would be ready to use in mixing up another dish.  Being raised in a Czech household, you go big or you go home when it comes to cooking.

We would often begin to giggle and jest about his pre-snore that start before he even fell asleep to which he would become alert and exclaim that he was wasn't snoring.

He was a man of few words.  He didn't say much when it came to advice but that just made you pay attention all the more.

Thoughts of him come often especially as of late.  Not so much sad but simply reminders of him.  

It is hard to believe that it has been five years.  Typing these words here brings everything on so fresh like it's 2009 again.  

Yes, there are many times when I wish...

I wish I could ask his advice on a million random things.
I wish I had learned more recipes from him.  
I wish I had forced him to teach me how he refinished furniture.
I wish he was still here to share in the future.

No, he wasn't perfect but he was my father, my family.  I am learning more each year how irreplaceable family is.

So I bring my memories here, to this space.

Memories have a way of sticking with you that make five years later seem like five minutes later.

They keep people near even when they are gone.

For that I am grateful.