This past week held a significant anniversary for me. On March 29, 1999, my father died of a heart attack after playing a game of Around the World outside at the basketball goal. My spring break that year wasn’t spent in glee, but gloom. I wrote a little about my father’s passing before, but such an event bears repeating.
I have lived more of my life without my father (and mother, since she died in 2000) than with them. That’s hard to believe. It’s also hard to believe seventeen years goes so fast. I can still remember details about that March night as if I were back in that room.
After my father won our game, he, my mom and brother went into the house. I stayed outside a little longer to work on my shot in hopes a rematch would offer me the chance to claim victory. Within a short time I went inside to our sun-room. There I sat in front of our family computer to play the campaign mode of “Starcraft”. My two older sisters were not home when dad collapsed. He was lying in his bed watching some sporting event. My younger brother was next to him. While in the sun-room I heard the rush of feet running my direction. It was mom. “Come quick, something is wrong with dad.” When I made my way to their room, there was my father lying on the floor. He was already lifeless. I picked up his head in my hands, and because I had seen it on TV, tried CPR. I can remember the feel of his prickly beard. His head weighed heavy in my hands. His lips were still moist with saliva. While trying CPR, my mom called 911, and called my sisters.
We kept performing CPR until the ambulance arrived, then they moved us into that same sun-room where minutes before I was in a battle against the enemy hoards. Little did I know while playing that game, the enemy Death won its’ own battle.
We sat in the waiting room in the hospital for what seemed like ages. When the doctor finally came in and announced they did everything, the next conversation I remember well. They asked about his organ’s for donation. I remember being so opposed to them taking anything from him. Thankfully, mom decided in favor of donation. It’s what dad would’ve wanted.
I remember getting back home late that night and watching my mom sitting on the couch shaking. Her best friend, my dad, was gone.
The next few years had some dark moments. My mother’s cancer returned for the third and final time. Regrettably, I wasn’t home much during her final months. I was with my “surrogate” parents and my best friend. After my mother died, I made some really, really poor decisions. Miraculously, though, God Himself did wonders setting me free from bondage. On top of His work in bringing me home from a sort of “exile”, He brought into my life a young woman who was a major part of my healing process. That young woman is my wife (working on year 9) and mother of our children.
When I think about my wife and my kids, my journey these past seventeen years, and all the ups and downs, I am amazed at the work of Providence in my life. Or, as a favorite author Stephen Lawhead says, I’m only now able to see the “Sure Swift Hand” guiding me, especially in those times I felt alone. God has been amazingly good. Yes, I’ve walked through “the valley of shadow” more than once, and no I haven’t enjoyed every experience life has granted me. Honestly, I haven’t been thrilled with my perception of God’s sovereignty. I would, after all, prefer everything to work out as I’d like. Yet, I’d be lying through my teeth if I were to say anything about God other than, “He is good. His steadfast love endures forever.”
You know, Ps. 68 describes God as a “Father to the fatherless.” God’s been for that for me. Time and time again I am reminded that while my earthly dad isn’t here, my Father is and has been with me every moment.
Thankfully, the promise of the gospel includes the promise of resurrection. That means I’ll see him again.