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Friday, April 25, 2014

It's Been A Year

Been thinking about this day for awhile and now it's here. 1 year ago today my mom died. 3 weeks ago today my dad died. It's surreal and OK all at the same time. I don't feel as sad today as I did when either of them first passed away. It's hard to be in this world without parents but it's not as hard as I imagined it would be. There is grace. There is peace. And while my immediate sorrow in my dad's passing was the deepest pain I'd ever felt, I have moved through the intensity of the loss a little quicker than with my mom's passing. I am at peace with this season in my life. I feel so deeply blessed and honored to have had the parents I did. I am so thankful that we shared a deep and abiding connection with one another, took time to have hard conversations and to overturn stones that needed upending. They left this earth with no regrets. They left this earth with me knowing how deeply I was loved and with them knowing how deeply they were loved.
The sweetness in knowing that they don't have to live on this earth without one another is something that really sustains me. I only feel joy that my parents enjoyed a 55 year love affair...so much so that my father couldn't even last a year without his beloved by his side. 
In these few weeks following my dad's passing, I think I have realized a bit more deeply how my mom's extended illness had taken its toll not only on my father but also on me. When my father first got sick, I remember praying, "Lord, please do not make me go through another period of trying to care for a critically ill parent while living so far away." Little did I know that God would answer that prayer by taking my father swiftly into His arms, but honestly, I am so grateful that my father is not suffering, languishing in some in between place, alive but not living, breathing but not thriving. What you do want are the young, vibrant, funny, clever, wise, loving and compassionate people that Ted and Rose Ann were for all of their lives. You do want them back...but you never want them back sick. And that means eventually accepting that at some point, you will have to let them go.
My folks and I when I graduated from Seminary
Of course, adjusting to life on earth without parents is a rite of passage that most children face, some at a much earlier age than others. I enjoyed my parent's presence in my life for over 50 years. We enjoyed traveling in Sweden along with trips to Norway, Ireland, Italy, France, Finland, and Latvia.
Being silly in Ireland
We took cruises to Mexico and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on the Adriatic sea.
Outside the old city of Ephesus, Turkey
The trip to Ephesus was a clear highlight for my mom and what joy it was to see how dad delighted in seeing Rome and Florence! I feel blessed by that.

Ancient toilets in Ephesus

I so dreaded my father's passing after my mom died last year and now I have faced that and survived that as well. Both of Doug's folks are still with us, but we know that eventually we will face that passage as well. It's hard. It's loss. There is sorrow. There is grief. There is sadness that our shared experiences are finished and now it is only our memories that linger. But we have some great memories and for that I am very thankful.
This last year of my life was one that I will never forget. It was a hard year in many ways but also a year that is filled with deep blessing and appreciation for who my parents were as people. Their deaths brought me back into contact with long time friends and that is a treasure to me even today. I was privileged to write and share tributes for both of them at their funerals and while that task was tough, it was also an amazing gift and also incredibly easy to reflect on their lives and speak highly of them. Our common faith binds our hearts in future hope and one day, we'll celebrate anew the joy that it has been to call ourselves family. Peace to their memory. I do miss you, my beloved mom and dad but I am so thankful that you are at peace and at rest in the presence of God and one another.