Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"Though I gently leave your side, I will never leave your heart."

It has now been two years. Two years since we had to say "good-bye" to someone we expected in our hearts to live forever. You know, grief is a funny thing. Despite all this time, I still battle with that side of my mind that refuses to accept that Dad is gone. Maybe it's because he's not really truly "gone" in the sense that death makes us think he is. But he isn't here anymore in that way where I can just pick up the phone and get an earful of his wisdom or feel the embrace of one of his incredible hugs.

I finally, two years later, made it to visit Dad at Arlington National Cemetery. It was a stunning day - cold, but the sun was shining and the ground was covered with snow. I'm not sure what I imagined the day would be like on my first visit there, but it was quiet and peaceful because of the snow.

Words started pouring out of my mouth as I stood where he laid to rest. My voice sounded confused to me as I fought to accept that I was standing where he now is buried. I begged him to hold me and to help me understand the grief, to help me work through the things that were challenging in my life, and to let me share all of the amazing things that have happened in our lives since he left us two years ago. As I gathered myself to leave his side, I walked down the street and was offered a ride from an older couple who had been there to visit their son who had also died less than two years ago. We talked like we had been long-lost friends and shared in our grief. The man told me that my Dad was among great company, and when he dropped me off, we were all in tears. It was a powerful moment, but one I know that we were all thankful to share.

Life isn't fair, we all know that, right? People we love get taken from us long before we are ready to let them leave our sides. On my Dad's tombstone are the words, "though I gently leave your side, I will never leave your heart." Those words were written by my Dad in a letter that my stepmom found. She said it didn't matter who the letter was to or what it was about. Those words captured who he was so completely and she imagined he was saying them to us when he died.

Life might not be fair, but it is glorious. Although he is not with us now, my life was full because he was a part of it. He taught me so many things about myself and how to look at the world even when I was reluctant to understand them. 

I am thankful that he was my father through all of it both good and bad, through the tears and the heartache, and the through the joy and laughter. And I am forever grateful that he is in my heart - that he will always be in my heart.

I miss you, Dad. It doesn't get easier, it just gets more normal that you are not here. I love you with all my heart. 


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