To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
My dad passed away about one month ago. I haven’t said much about it to anyone, mostly because I’m not quite sure what I feel about the whole thing.
Dad and I weren’t really close. No animosity, just distance both physically and emotionally. I don’t think I’ve processed his death, partly because it was expected after a long illness and partly because we just never shared a lot.
But still, now that both parents have passed away, there’s a sense of being a little more alone in the world. He didn’t want a formal funeral, so we didn’t have the opportunity for closure that accompanies those sorts of rituals. When this article appears, I’ll be on the way to a small family memorial.
Part of the closure involves recalling the joys and laughter of a long, productive life. One of my cherished childhood memories occurred the night before my grandpa’s funeral, when his brothers sat around and drank and told stories and everyone laughed.
I remember asking my mom if laughing was okay, and she assured me that’s exactly what grandpa would have wanted. I think that’s what Dad would want as well, so I hope we’ll tell some of the jokes and funny stories that brought him so much pleasure.
Another part of closure involves the sorrow of loss, and for me I think that means acknowledging some regrets.
I’m sorry we weren’t closer, though I have no idea how I might have changed that.
I’m sorry he never had the opportunity to read Relentless Grace. I guess when you publish a book you want your parents to read it. Mom would have like it, though she missed the publication date by almost thirty years. She would have appreciated the message of the story, the assurance of hope that springs eternally from God’s perfect faithfulness.
I’m not sure Dad would have understood what I was trying to say. Our relationship didn’t include conversations on that level, so I really don’t know what he would have thought. I’m sorry he didn’t get to hear that side of my story.
Death is such an elusive experience. We all experience it, but I doubt if anyone truly understands it. We plan for it, and but I don’t think it’s ever quite what we imagine. Like most sons, I always saw Dad as a bit larger than life. It’s still difficult to get my mind around the reality that he’s gone.
The writer of Ecclesiastes 3 observed, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Among the specific seasons, he mentions:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Dad didn’t care much for Pete Seeger (songwriter), the Byrds (performers) or for this sort of music in general. But memorials are a time to mend and express what sometimes can best be expressed in music. So with apologies to Dad:
(If you have problems viewing the video, please click this link to view it.)
This is a time to mourn; I hope it’ll also be a time to laugh. We all have a time to die; for those of us who remain, and for Dad, I pray that it’s a time for peace.