May 7, 2015

A Final Letter

Dear Dad,

The tears have already begun to flow.  My scrunched up face and saltwater filled eyes gaze at this screen as I type.  I miss you so much.  It's been 46 days since you died.  It's been harder than I anticipated, but just as you always said, "God is not in the forsaking business."  He has been faithful in big and small ways since your death. There was that time just a few days after your funeral when I just "happened" to come across your entire lesson on suffering, based on the book of Job. What a God thing to be able to learn from my Dad, in his own hand writing, how to deal with his death. And then there was the day recently when I opened the hymnal to sing, and your note fell out - the one you wrote to me while in Memory Care - the one where you spelled my name wrong. : )

It seems fitting to write you a letter because I've written so many before.  That's how I've shared my deepest thoughts and feelings with you.  And perhaps this won't be the last letter I write to you. I may over the weeks, months, even years to come, feel the need to talk to you, and you know how much easier the words come to me when I write.  It seems appropriate to share my letter here in this space where over the last 8 years I have shared much about our journey together.  Even in my absence from this place with no walls, I know friends who are sitting behind bright screens in dimly lit rooms talking to our God about my suffering.  They have loved me from a far and walked this journey with us.  


I spoke at your funeral, Dad!  Did Jesus tell you about it?  There were over 350 people there and my nerves didn't take over. God's Holy Spirit did.  We had a worship service to honor you but more importantly to honor your God.  Our God. I shared parts of some of the letters I had written you over the years, and I testified to God's faithfulness to us as we walked a dark road called Alzheimer's.  Here are just a few of the words I shared.

"Just 10 short months after Mom and Dad moved into Independent Living at the senior living center, Dad moved to the Memory Care wing.  It was there that God faithfully showed me that just  because a road is not well lit, does not mean it is unsafe or unsavory. It was on the dark road called Alzheimer's that I more deeply grasped the matchless grace of Jesus, and the deep love God has for me.  In the darkness, God's light shines the brightest.  In the darkness, we seek Him out.  Because with God, there is no such thing as pitch black.  John 1:5 says, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."  And so, if we are on a path which God has placed us, we can know by default that he will light it.  God's word is true.  It can be trusted.  So we must not fear the dark road, we must trust the one who lights it.  God's fingerprints were all over this journey with Dad, and He was not only faithful to him, but faithful to continue His good work in me by using my Dad's life to mold and shape me further, even in the midst of Alzheimer's."

So you see Dad, not a moment of your life was wasted. Even in those moments where you didn't have a clue who I was, God was using you to teach me and others!  Our God is an amazing God!  You know that even more than I do now.  I'm so glad you are in His presence.  Yes, I do miss you, but I'm glad you are whole again.  I'm glad you've received your reward.  It's hard for me to imagine that if God allows me to live as long as you did, I will walk the roads of this life for 40 more years - without you.  You have been my rock, but that is one thing that God has taught me, and that is, He must be my rock.  You were and are a perfect Dad.  Even after your death your words and all that you instilled in me are with me. Because you poured into my life all that you could while you were here, you will continue to be with me every day until I join you.  And Dad, I will join you as only those of us who are in Christ can.


Of course, my privilege now is to continue overseeing Mom's care. Here, we are celebrating at the family gathering after the funeral.  Mom's getting used to selfies! Your beautiful bride is suffering Dad, but she is tough, and she loves Jesus.  I will be faithful to her Dad, and she too will be with you soon, probably sooner than I would like to see her go.

I love you Dad.  I miss you.  And I am so very proud of you.

Your youngest,
Stephani

This is the final photo that was taken of Dad.  He was leaning in to listen to hymns being played on my phone as I held it near his ear. This photo was taken on a Sunday, he died one week later.


Thank you to my internet friends who have walked this journey with me, who have prayed and shared words of encouragement.  I continue to need your prayers as I care for Mom and the handling of Dad's estate.  I still love this blog space, and do hope to return.  Until then, know you are loved and thought about often!

5 comments:

  1. I don't know you or your dad, but I saw glimpses of your heart as I read your words here. The final picture of your dad is very touching. Praying the God of all comfort be with you as you walk this road.

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  2. Oh, no, I didn't realize your dad had passed away. :( I'm so sorry for your loss, Stephani. He sounds like he was such a wonderful man! And you were such a wonderful daughter. Prayers are with you, your mom, and all those still on this journey with you.

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  3. Oh, Stephanie, I have missed you so much in blogging land and am so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. What a beautiful entry to honor his life and I would love to have heard you speak. Abundant blessings to you as you adjust to life without your Dad. I look forward to your getting back to blogging. Sending hugs and prayers your way.

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  4. Dear Stephanie, I am so so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. I know how much you love your family and it must be quite difficult, especially for your Mom being without him. He is in God's loving arms. I do know how devastating Alzheimer's is, still struggling with my husband after almost 4 years in a care facility. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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  5. Oh, Stephanie! What sweet pictures & memories of your daddy! Since my mama's passing (almost a year ago), the hardest thing is to see is my Daddy having to live without her.
    I read a book "Angel on Board" (EJ Thornton) that I'm going to have to read again. She also has a 2nd book about angels that I'm definitely going to read as well. I truly believe that there no coincidences, and I believe that your daddy had a hand in you finding the lesson and the note. He's up there, looking after you for sure! :)

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