It’s been one year. Part of me feels like it’s flown by, part of me feels like it’s been forever.
But every part of me misses you. SO much.
It’s been one year since I got the phone call, since I jumped out of bed and drove to be by your side. I remember it like it was yesterday, Daniel calling me, telling me to hurry. We were about 5 miles away when he called again. I needed to get there. Fast.
I thought I’d have more time. Turns out, Daniel had been keeping you alive the entire time, rubbing your chest, telling you to hang on until I got there. If he hadn’t done that, I would have never gotten to say goodbye to you.
Instead, I got your last moments. I ran in, grabbed your hand, and told you I loved you. That I was there, that I made it. That it would be ok.
And with two more breaths, you were gone.
My heart literally aches when I think back to that moment. It all happened so fast, I didn’t know how to feel. I remember running to the bathroom and throwing up. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t talk, I just felt sick. My head was spinning. How were we going to make it without you? How we were going to go on? How was mom going to live without the love of her life? How was Daniel going to live without his best friend? How was I going to live without my hero…my dad?
But we had no choice. We could only take it…one minute, one hour, one day at a time.
As I sit here today, nearly one year later, to the hour…I know you are enjoying paradise. I am certain of it. I can only imagine the pure joy you are experiencing at this very moment. Yet my heart still aches at the thought of you missing out on the legacy you have worked so hard to build. The family you had worked so hard to see grow. The memories you had worked so hard to be a part of.
But nonetheless…I have to believe, I just have to believe…that you see glimpses of our lives. That you are here with us, still.
Take mom for example. You’d be so proud of her, dad. Within weeks after you were gone, she was here in KC with us. She gave up all that she’d known to be here. To mourn with us, to grieve with us, and to continue on with us. She wasn’t going to let one moment go by without her kids knowing she was there for them. That’s the kind of woman she is…but I know that doesn’t surprise you.
She is so brave. So courageous. But she misses you. So deeply. She shows up at my door, every once in awhile, just crying. Just needing to be held. You were her everything, dad. She still remembers your last words to her…”You did a good job, dear.” And she did, didn’t she? Yet, it’s so hard to see her alone. I used to wave when I would leave the house…until we turned the corner, watching you two holding each other, waving good bye. Now I look back and it’s just her. And it hits me deep inside. She’s alone. While D and I have our families, she has no one. She goes to bed alone, she wakes up alone. Yet she keeps fighting. She keeps going on. Because of you.
She’s opening up that beautiful heart again, dad. She just got back from Haiti. While she was there, she spent her time ministering to the women and children there. She let down her guard and let God work through her in a mighty way. Yet her greatest fear? Coming back. Walking off the plane and not seeing you there. You’ve always been there…and this time, you weren’t. But she did it, dad. We picked her up at the airport and she was glowing. She is finding herself again. After all, she doesn’t know exactly who she is without you.
It’s a slow process, but she’s doing it.
And she does it with such grace. Such strength. She’s amazing. Amazing.
And then there’s my strong, stubborn, yet incredibly loyal brother. You’d be so proud of D, dad. He’s had a rough road since you’ve been gone. His faith has been tested, but he’s stood firm. He’s stepped up and taken care of our family, just as you’d want him to. He’s carrying on your legacy through his two boys, too. You should hear them talk about you. They even watch imaginary Redskins football in honor of their papa. They have the best parts of you in them…Levi is so smart and kind, Silas is so cute and ornery. And boy, do they love their daddy.
I’ve always been close to D, but since you’ve been gone, I think we’ve gotten closer. There is just an understanding between us…something that we don’t even have to express. There is no one else on earth that knows how I miss you like he does. I used to call you for everything…but he’s the one I call now, when I need advice. He’s so much like you, dad. I don’t have to say much for him to know exactly how I feel. I trust him, I need him. And he’s always there.
But what’s most impressive is how he’s taking care of mom. He is there in a moment’s notice whenever she needs him.
He’s honoring you, dad. In a big way.
I know you’ve been here with me, too. And I hope I’ve made you proud. To me, it’s not the bad times that make me miss you the most…it’s the good times. I’ll be honest, it’s been absolutely excruciating to see my sweet baby grow up without her papa. I think back so often to that night, just a few day before you passed away, when we were able to do an ultrasound of the baby in your room. How badly I wanted to find out what it was, so that you could share in our joy. But you wouldn’t have it. You wanted it to be a surprise. I think, somehow, you knew. You knew you’d get a glimpse of her beautiful life far before I ever would.
The dream I had about you a few weeks before she was born confirmed what I had wondered all along. You already knew her. You knew our Zoey. Because she was YOUR Zoey, too. And you were there when I welcomed your beautiful granddaughter into the world. You were with me, dad…the whole time. It was such an incredible day, but it was so hard. I made it through because of the strength you taught me to have. The strength that can only come from God. And the reward was better than I ever could have ever imagined.
I lost so much joy when you died…but I have gotten pieces of that back in Zoey. Oh, how you would have loved her. She has your smile and your crazy, unruly hair. She has my spunk and Brandon’s sweetness.
She is just perfect.
I’ve always admired you so much, dad. Everything about you. And your advice? I didn’t take it lightly. This past spring, Brandon and I accomplished the dream you’ve always had for us…we paid off our debt. I wish I could have called you and told you the good news, because I know you would have been so proud. But I had a peace in my heart, knowing we fulfilled something you wanted so desperately for us. We did it, dad. We did it. Thanks to you.
If there’s one thing I could always count on, it’s how much you believed in me, how much you loved me.
You always have, right from the start.
It’s been a long, hard year. But a few weeks ago, as we gathered together, we bowed our heads to pray. As we raised them, Mom told us it was time. Time to pick ourselves up and be the family that we were when you were here.
Time to carry on your legacy.
Time to make you proud.
I miss you.
I miss your laugh, your smile, your advice. I miss your strong hugs. I miss your kind eyes.
I miss everything.
But dad, we are making it.
And you’d be proud of us…we are even having a few laughs along the way.
I love you…and I will see you again someday.
Of that I’m sure.