So I ran today.
If you know me at all… this is not surprising. Except for the fact that I haven’t ran in weeks. I haven’t even walked fast since I learned of my dad’s death, so running was long overdue. With Ohio clouds beckoning me on… I chose to lace up the shoes and run.
I started with legs that felt more like tree trunks. I plodded on… step after step… until my breaths found their cadence and each movement of my leg brought the momentum necessary for the next. Steps turned into miles as I let my mind drift.
Here I am in Ohio… again.
It is a place I don’t want to be… but I know I must be. I have an appointment here… an agenda… a purpose. I am here to send my father to his final resting place. In less than 12 hours I will be leading the last service that my dad will ever physically attend.
Ouch. That last sentence just flowed out of me, but it hurt. I didn’t like it and I don’t like it. It sounds final and sad… I guess it is.
As I run I let my mind run. It has been caged up lately and it needs to run free. It needs release, but I am not always happy with the places my uncaged mind takes me… because sometimes it goes to places that I don’t want to be.
Like that first moment tomorrow when I will see my dad at the funeral home. I haven’t seen him since the night before he left. He came to my house and brought ice cream over to share. He was celebrating his trip the next day. He wanted to celebrate with his family before his final ride.
I don’t know that I want to see him again… but I know I must. I don’t know if I want my kids to see him primped up in some box… but I know they must. I don’t know if my family wants to stand before his open casket and pay their final respects… but I know they must. I must. They must. We must.
That is part of healing.
I know that the tears aren’t done for me. I haven’t cried in a few days, but my tears don’t run easy surrounded by people. There is no escape from people in the fresh dawn of tragedy. But, people won’t matter tomorrow. That’s my dad in the box and it’s the last time I will see him before heaven. However, he will live on in my heart and mind and life. I will live to shine bright for him. And, I will honor him tomorrow with my tears and my voice.
This is but one thought that I can’t escape, but the only one that won’t leave me… the one that returns… that one that won’t leave me alone… my dad in a box.
I check my pulse a few miles from home. It is 178. Time to walk for a bit. It has been too long.
I walk and think. I can’t wait for my time in Ohio to be over. The clouds cast a dank depression over a soul who needs no help being sad right now.
I check my pulse. 143. Time to run. I start again.
As I try not to think about my current reality a movement catches my attention to my left. My eyes shoot over and about 50 feet in front of me I see a buck darting across the street.
I am in a city called Berea… yes, I said “city”. There is a four lane street with a 5th suicide lane in the middle. We are not in “God’s country” and I surely wasn’t planning for Bambi to run out in front of me right now. But, it’s not a “Bambi”… it’s a buck…
My pace slows and I watch the deer.
The buck darts across the street and takes a few more beautiful strides. I stumble for my camera on my phone, but in moments like this it never moves fast. I put the phone down and just stare at the beast before me.
He stares at me for about 15-20 seconds and then walks into a thick forested area.
I think back to all my thoughts and the place where I was right now and the reason for my journey. I felt a whisper in my soul. “It’s fine, son. I’m home now. It’s time for you to leave me here.”
Please don’t think that I’m talking to animals or anything like that… but God has a beautiful way of communicating to our souls and He can use our experiences to communicate His purposes in our life. In this moment in my life, God chose to use a deer and I chose to listen.
My dad is home.
My dad is in heaven with his Father. My dad rejoices with the angels because of his faith in Jesus Christ and, after tomorrow, his bones will rest in the place of his childhood… next to the love of his life.
All in all… that is pretty sweet!
My job is simply to drop him off… to see him off… and to honor him with my words.
I ran home and it started raining… but Ohio wasn’t that terrible anymore. It was a piece of my puzzle… a chapter in the novel of my life and the rain become a “washing away of what was” and a “watering of what would be”.
I reached my destination lighter than when I left. Even though I was soaking wet and smelled like a locker room, there was a freedom growing in my heart that I know would only grow in the next 24 hours. Tears will come… but they will water my soul and honor my dad… and those are the best tears to have.
After the run I took my family to see a movie called “Inside Out”. Again, God showed up.
I don’t have time to tell you all that God spoke to me through that movie, but let me just point out one crucial, life changing, important fact.
IT’S OK TO BE SAD.
It’s OK to cry and be sad and when we try to stop experiencing this emotion… all other emotions can die too and we simply end up a stale and dark human being. This is not the man I long to be. I have been… I am… and I will be sad.
But, I’m not sad for my dad’s life… for that I rejoice.
I’m sad for those moments that I will never have… those conversations that will never be spoken… those smiles that I will never see. But… that’s OK too.
If you are sad today, I want you to know that it’s OK to be sad. Don’t put on a mask. Don’t pretend. Be real. Those tears are seeds of healing that need to be sown and you are the only farmer of your soul.
Thanks for Sitting Shiva Still!