This is one of those nights that seems darker than most. My mind overflows with images: little slices of heaven with my father by my side. I see him holding my hand as a child running down the beach. I see him chasing my bike down an empty sidewalk as the training wheels came off and I rode on my own for the first time. I see him leading us on those nature trails he so loved to take us to. I feel him lift me over his head and swing me around, his grip strong and firm, but not harsh.
I see him helping me with my baseball swing, math homework, and offering small praises with each new picture I drew for him. I see us all sharing our dinners in front of the tv as the theme song to Stargate SG-1 plays, and I see all of us crowding around our little computer to play Roller Coaster Tycoon or that minigolf game we used to love. For one brief and happy moment, we’re all a family again.
I hear him singing with his gospel quartets and church choirs. He had such a powerful voice. I see the joy in his face as he shares special songs for communion, chief among them being “My Tribute,” and I wonder if he’d be proud of me if he could hear me every Sunday morning leading the church in worship. I hope so.
I see him sitting in his chair wearing those ridiculous blue shorts he always wore, holding that giant blue coffee mug he was constantly sipping on. I see him on the back porch caring for the plethora of plants that turned our place into a jungle and talking to the birds as he dropped new seed on the ground for them to eat.
Then, I see the horrors the cancer visited upon him. I see how it made him waste away, sapping his strength, crippling him, then killing him. The music stops with his heart. Those arms I trusted in and relied on so much as a boy lay limp at his side. My father, my superhero, was gone.
Life was never easy for us, circumstances being what they were, but he never lost faith. He never doubted we were held in God’s hand and He wouldn’t let us fall. “Whatever you do, son, please don’t get angry at God for this.” His words burn in my mind like the cancer that destroyed his body.
And here I sit, silently sobbing in the dark. I wish I could see him just once more…just sing one more song with him, laugh at one more of his corny jokes, share a cup of coffee as we stare at the stars. I wish I could feel his strong embrace one more time. He always gave the best hugs. I wish he could meet my future wife and children…but it will never be. Not in this life.
Nevertheless, there is hope. All is not lost. He is one of the redeemed of the Lord, and when I pass from this life to the next, we’ll be reunited. So I’ll pick up and keep going. Now is not the time for tears. That time has passed, and my mother needs me. “So I’ll try my best, and lift up my chest, to sing about this joy, joy, joy.”
“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like seabillows roll, whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.”