Sunday mornings I drop the kids off at church for Sunday School and I head back to the cemetery to have a chat with my dad.
I haven't been doing this for that long of a time. About a month ago it hit me that once I move, I won't be able to visit dad whenever I wanted.
And to be totally honest, I didn't make it there as often as I would have liked.
So I decided that a Sunday morning routine was in order.
I have found that I start to look forward to our visits. By Friday afternoon I look forward to the quiet time I have with my dad.
I take a cup of coffee and sit at the foot of his gravestone and just chat. I tell him what I'm sad about. I tell him what I'm thankful for. I update him on my week. I ask him questions. Questions that I would ask if he were alive. I always, always tell him how much I miss him and I don't think I can go another day without him. I.just.plain.miss.my.dad.
Often I pray to my heavenly Father. I ask Him for my needs and my desires. Sometimes I ask Him if He is still there and if He still hears me. Almost every single time, the clouds break open and the sun rays beam down upon me. I know that someday, on earth or in heaven, all the desires of my heart will be fulfilled.
I love my weekly talks with my dad. Its one things I will desperately miss when I'm moved.
A few weeks ago I noticed an older man from our church coming to visit his wife. I don't know him all that well, but we have some connections.
Last week I waved as he drove by. I knew that this was a hard place for him to come as well, yet he needed to come as badly as I did. His wife died 6 months or so ago and he misses her and needs the time to reflect and remember.
After church last week, I went up to him and spoke with him a few minutes about our common meeting place. He smiled with tears in his eyes and said "its hard to miss someone, isn't it?"
This morning was like other Sunday mornings.
I dropped the children off for Sunday School and then headed back the long, private lane to our cemetery.
I walked through the wet, muddy grass to dad's resting place. I squatted down in front of the stone. Staring at the words "Our Loving Father" printed so clearly on the top. As much as I want to fight it, tears come to my eyes and begin to fall down my cheeks. I know I shouldn't be so surprised to see his name etched into the stone. But every time I see it I gasp for breath. "It can't be true" I think to myself. "I can't be sitting in front of my dad's grave. This cannot be happening to me." One would think that after ten years I would have come to accept this fact. But I haven't yet. The thought of it still stuns me and stabs my heart.
As I sit in front of the marker, telling Dad about my week and the wonderful news that Tricia was being announced for peace at church. I knew how happy he would be at this. And I wanted to tell him. As I sit there in the bitter cold, sipping my hot coffee, I see a truck pull in the lane. It comes around the gravel drive and pulls up to my car. The older gentleman steps out and begins to walk across the grass. My dad was his great-nephew. So he knows why I'm there.
He stands a few feet from me as I walk towards him. He throws his arms around me and weeps on my shoulder. He says "We are both here for the same reason aren't we? We are here to remember and to reflect." We both cry for a moment while we hold each other. He then patted my arm and slowly turned to go. He needed to visit his wife and knew I needed to finish talking to my dad.
Later I saw him at church and he looked my way and smiled. While I always knew we had familial connections, I never had a personal connection with him before. Now I do. And I'm thankful for that.
Next week, on a Sunday morning, I'll expect to see him. We'll probably stop for a moment and grieve together. I'm thankful we will have each other on those mornings so it won't seem so empty and lonely.
Pray for us both, won't you?