It's hard to believe that it's been 8 years since my father passed away. Time flies. 8 years since that cloudy, cold afternoon that we stood by his graveside, silently, with tears in our eyes, and sadness in our souls.
My brother, sister and I made our annual trip to Park Lawn, in the big city, a trip we try to take every year. It hasn't always worked out, but I'm glad it did this year. It's pretty special to have the 3 of us there to reminisce and spend a quiet moment together.
Last year was different. After 7 years, I didn't feel the tears come easily. I silently berated myself; how could I not feel the same intense emotion I have in other years? I wanted to cry - I felt that I would be betraying my Dad's memory if I didn't - that somehow he would be less significant if I didn't feel the pain so intensely.
In the days that followed, I realized that God has, in many ways, healed my heart. It's not that I don't remember - it's not that I don't feel the pain - it's just that I've realized that ... it is what it is. It happened for a reason, and God designed it to be this way. And I'm okay with that.
It was dark this year; we didn't get there terribly late, but the sun had set, and the cemetery was dark and eerie. My sister took this picture; it seems to reflect how eerie the deserted cemetery was.
Sorry for the quality - we had a flashlight and a cell phone camera! It you can't make it out, it reads:
In loving memory of
a beloved husband
ALLAN EDWARD, TED
Dec 24, 1953 - Nov 10, 2001
You will fill me with joy
in your presence, with eternal
pleasures at your right hand.
On the back of that card is a prescription; he had written a verse from my Dad's favorite Psalm - 16. His Rx read: "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure."
What an encouragement!
The last verse my Dad ever shared with me was verse 8, and I had the reference tattooed on my left shoulder: "I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
The Psalmist continues, "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let you Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
Tonight the tears come easily. Tonight my eyes are filled with tears - I am incredibly sad that my children won't get to meet their Grandpa Stimers in their life. I feel pain because my Dad won't get to hold his grandkids. He would have been an amazing Grandpa, and would be so proud to hold his grandbabies.
But he hasn't been abandoned. Jesus has not left him alone in death - he has not abandoned my Dad to the grave, and in that, I take much comfort!
And, through my pain and tears, I can rejoice - I can rejoice because I know my Dad is enjoying the eternal pleasures that are promised in the Bible. I pray that I will raise my kids to know Jesus - to know and walk with Jesus in a profound way, that they may enjoy the amazing gift that awaits them. I pray that I can, and will, raise my kids to follow Jesus - even when it's hard - even though it's not popular or easy - I pray that they will follow the legacy that my Grandfather left me, the legacy that my father carried, and the legacy that I intend to leave for my kids.
Milestones are hard. Graduating college was hard. Getting engaged, and marrying the most amazing woman in the world was hard - knowing she won't get to meet my Dad until Heaven. And having my Dad's first Grandkids... is hard.
I miss you Dad.
Thank you all for sharing this with me; thanks for letting me share this with you, because it's important to me. For those of you who knew my Dad, who shared time with him, prayed with and for him, and supported him in ministry, thank you. Thank you for supporting, praying for us kids as we went through a difficult time of mourning, and thank you for those of you who don't let my memories fade.