Eight years ago today, my father died. He had fought a seven-year battle with leukemia, and the complications finally caught up with him. I remember the whole week leading up to it. He had gone into the hospital on Sunday afternoon (the 10th) after a blood transfusion failed to stabilize his red blood cell counts. Monday night several blood clots moved from his legs into his lungs, heart, and head, resulting in a mild/moderate heart attack and stroke. The rest of that week saw steady improvement, though, and by Saturday he was out of ICU.
Sunday night (the 17th) as I was leaving my small group leader’s house, my mom called to ask me to come by the hospital before I went home because Dad had been moved back to ICU. She said it was nothing major, but she just wanted me come by. I will never forget walking around the corner into the ICU waiting room and seeing my cousin Jeremy standing there, sobbing. In the 30 minutes between small group and the hospital, my dad’s heart had stopped and been restarted, and as I arrived the doctors were restarting it for a second time. They got him stabilized, but couldn’t get his blood pressure above about 50/20, and he never regained consciousness.
At about 4:30 on the morning of March 18th, 2002, I lost my father to death. It took me several weeks to get to the point where I could actually mourn. I don’t know if I was trying to be strong for everyone else, or if it just didn’t really sink in until then. Even when the tears finally came, there weren’t that many.
Eight years later, I can look back on such a hard time in my life with at least some understanding of why it happened. In the summer of 2003, I had the opportunity to tell my story to about 150 middle school students at a camp, and how God’s love expressed through my friends, and specifically my youth group, brought me through. The next fall, a friend at college was dealing with the death of her father, and I got to be there for her. Since then I’ve told it many times to various people, and had the opportunity to share some of the love that was shared with me.
I’m grateful for the ministry opportunities, even though it still hurts a little bit. What about you? What difficult thing has happened in your past that God has brought you through? What opportunities to share God’s love, grace, and peace has it created for you?
Side note – You know what I’m most thankful for out of this whole experience? I’m thankful that the last words I ever said to my father were, “I love you, Dad. I’ll see you later.” Both statements were true then, and they still are today. Please make sure that the people you love know that you love them.