I came here to write about something on my mind,
and discovered that I never shared photos and news from our family reunion last July.
But a lot has happened since then, and I guess it all plays into the same story....
You've probably heard 'The Lord's Prayer' at some point in your life, right?
I discovered a hidden meaning in one of the verses in that prayer over the past few months...
The line was 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death....'
I've been on that path before. I've had loved ones die, and had to face life without them after they were gone. But over the past few months, the experience that my Mom, my sisters, and I went through has re-defined the term 'The valley of the shadow of death' for me. Now, it doesn't refer to the aching loneliness, the lack of laughter and joy, the absence of the person you love and the deep ache in your soul after loss. No. Now, it refers to the achingly time-bending, unreal experience of waiting for someone you love to leave. The ticking clock and the passing minutes, hours, days as they slowly slip away from life toward death... with no control over the timeline.
That is when that 'shadow of death' comes....
it falls over everything, shading it in subdued hues with a chill in the air. BEFORE death, not after.
The horrific heartbreak was doing this over and over and over, every day and every night, knowing that it could be his last...... and then it wasn't. We repeated the words every single day, day after day, releasing him... going to bed at night, trusting the hospice nurses to call us if anything changed, and rising in the early mornings with dread. The day my sister Linda had to return home to Wisconsin before he passed was one of the saddest days of my life, because she knew she would never see her Daddy alive again. My heart broke for her.
And then, it came...
Those days will never be repeated, but their meaning leads us forward to create more memories together.
Thank you, Dad, for everything.
And I know..... "I will always be with you." There's more to that story, too...
The loss of his presence here in the house, and in our family, is still fresh, new, raw, and painful. We still cry and ache and miss him deeply. We know we will for years to come. His mark on the house, on us, is everywhere. My Mom is a woman of faith and strength, and she amazes me every day as I watch her learn to navigate this world without the man who was her everything. Four of his five kids were somehow able to stand and honor him at his service, to speak through the pain and tears so that we could share our remarkable Dad with those gathered to mourn his loss... his influence on us was that profound. For me, this man, who didn't HAVE to, became the Daddy I so desperately yearned for and needed.
He loved me and healed the broken places in my heart that other men damaged.
My sweet friend Julia, a fellow cast member at Disneyland,
took the family photos at the Park on the day of our family reunion trip there.
I am so very grateful.