My siblings and I have been working diligently on cleaning out the house. 47 years of memories are packed into every corner of their home; making the job at times seem endless. Boxes of forgotten memories from years past were opened and rediscovered. Wood working projects dad started remain unfinished where they stood in his workshop. Never did we think a pile of sawdust on the floor could make us cry.
Grief does that. It has a knack of taking something simple and seemingly unimportant and breathes a different kind of life into it. Like the potato masher I found on the kitchen counter. A simple kitchen utensil used in homes every day. Yet I picked up this potato masher and held onto it tightly. Dad had made mashed potatoes for our Christmas Eve dinner. Mashed potatoes that never made it to the Christmas Eve table; they remained in the front seat of his car after the accident. This potato masher was one of the very last things he held. And now, this potato masher held great importance to me.
On this day in April we were on the final room of the house. We worked clearing out one room at a time and today the last room sat quietly waiting. Their bedroom. The sacred room in any marriage. 47 years of love and heartache and laughter and life happened in that room. And there I was standing in the middle of this sacredness.
My siblings would be there soon enough, I was early. I dreaded cleaning out this room not because of it's condition, but because I knew it would be one of great emotional difficulty. I stood there not knowing where to start. Dad's work clothes hung where he left them on Christmas Eve. Taking in a deep breath, I pick up his work shirt.
Really God? This is my life story? First mom at Christmas last year and now Dad this Christmas? Why is THIS my life story? Did Dad's death have to be so...violent? I don't get it God. I really don't understand.
This conversation with God is one I've had many times. Immersed in emotion while standing in their room, I figured it would be another good time to ask Him these questions unsure if answers will ever be given. Yet, I ask and if I'm honest, at times, demand.
I reach into the pocket of Dad's shirt and find an old pocket calendar from 2010. I can't help but wonder why Dad is carrying around a calendar that is 5 years old. The edges are worn and the pages are frayed. I see the grease smudges from his mechanic hands. Knowing I will have to turn each page in case there is anything important hidden in them, I take a deep breath.
The pages hold nondescript notes; I run my finger over his handwriting.
Jesus? Tell Dad I miss him.
Oh look, here is mom's social security number written on a loose piece of paper. This was just like Dad to keep her social security number close by just in case.
God, I'm not sure my heart can handle all this heartache. I can't believe I'm having to go through his pockets. Why God? Just...why?
What's this? I unfold a piece of paper that was tucked in between two pages. It's a handwritten note by Dad. The words pierce my heart and I begin to weep.
"Where you are today is no accident. God is using the situation you are in right now to shape you and prepare you for the place He wants to bring you into tomorrow. Trust Him with His plan even if you don't understand it."**
I am stunned. Had I not just been asking God these questions? Had I not been wrestling with these very things?
God, did you just reach down from heaven and put that there for me?
My tears fall freely. It is undeniable I was meant to find this note on this day. God answered my questions. Although I do not know the 'why' this is happening in my life, I do know God wipes away my tears and helps move me toward tomorrow.
Dad's days were perfectly numbered by God. Although his death was a shock to our family, it was not a surprise to God. When we walk in the Valley of the Shadow of Death I remind myself of this. I'll see Dad again and God promises to walk each step with me until then.
The days aren't as difficult as they had been. I still have Dad's note. It now hangs in a frame in my living room. Sometimes I look at his handwriting and wonder if God opened heaven that day and dropped that note into Dad's pocket for me to find. God gave me exactly what I needed when I needed it. An encouraging note, handwritten by Dad, reminding me of God's love, hope, and promise. A promise Dad now experiences. Forever.
**Original quote by Anna Bachinsky