Ten years is the distance between my Daddy’s final breath on earth and first breath in Heaven. Ten Years. Today marks the end of those ten years and the beginning of the eleventh. I was 19 when he died of cancer. He turned 50 in the middle of his battle. He wasn’t just my father, he was my Daddy. He never made me wonder if he loved me or not. He told me and showed me multiple times every day. I believed him when he looked me in the eye from his hospital bed and said he wasn’t going anywhere. Each year that we’ve been away from his presence has carried a different weight and a shorter wait until we see him again. The first year was one of the hardest. It sort of felt more real on day 1 of the next 365 days. He wasn’t away on a long trip. I wasn’t just away at college. He wasn’t too busy to answer his phone. He really had departed from our daily rituals. Yet, with the first anniversary of his death also came a huge sigh of relief. We had made it through a year of firsts. The first time he didn’t answer the phone when I called. The first time we went back to church without his steady delivery of God’s word from behind the pulpit. The first holiday he wasn’t at the dinner table. The first birthday he spent in Heaven. Along with that sigh of relief, though, have come many other firsts or once in a life time moments that we had hoped he would be there for. The birth of his first grandchild. College graduations. The opportunity for him to give his blessing for my hand in marriage to my husband and his arm to walk me down the aisle. There will be more firsts to come. Year five felt like a big accomplishment too. For me, it was as if I took a big deep breath and said, “OK. We can really do this. God has gotten us through thus far and we’ll just keep on keeping on five years at a time.” For some reason, I just knew that year seven would be the best year our family would face since his death. I expected it to be the year of jubilee for our family, just like the seventh year was for people in the Bible. It turned out to be one of the hardest years we have faced. My husband was unexpectedly laid off, later that year he was in a wreck that totaled his car, and then our extended family went through a huge chasm filled with oppression and trial. I must admit, I did question God a little bit and ask why He was allowing more pain after we had been through the lost battle of cancer with my Daddy. More suffering and more trials have come since then. I am not naive enough anymore to think that more are not yet to come. But here we are at year ten. It’s the next set of fives. Among the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years of grief, though, Hope still remains. It has always been there because unlike the uncharted days we traverse, its source never changes.
Maybe you’re in the beginning stages of grief. Maybe you’re a little further down the road. Maybe it feels like it won’t end. Maybe it’s an accomplishment for you to just keep breathing in and out. Maybe you’ve been numb to it. Maybe you’ve exploited it. Maybe you’ve given up. Maybe you’ve kicked yourself into overdrive.
Whatever your ‘maybe’ is, your need and my need are the same: hope. When all is stripped away from you, sometimes its hard to find any hope to hold onto. But its there. I’ve been there. It’s real. You need to know that. You really really do.
Hope is there in the waiting room as you anticipate the conversation with the doctor that is about to happen.
Hope is there when he tells you you have six months to live.
Hope is there when you break the news to your family.
Hope is there when your daughter collapses in tears in the parking lot of her university when she hears the unthinkable words come from your mouth on the other end of the line.
Hope is there when you face your first surgery.
Hope is there when you find out you were misdiagnosed.
Hope is there when you shave your head.
Hope is there when the needle goes in your arm to pump poison into your veins to kill not only the growing cells of carcinogens but the healthy ones too.
Hope is there in there when you loose your appetite.
Hope is there when your loved ones toss and turn through restless nights of worry.
Hope is there when the room is still, silent, and solitary when everyone goes home at night.
Hope is there when you’re so anxious you can barely breathe.
Hope is there when you get delusional.
Hope is there when your family drifts asleep and you drift into eternity.
Hope is there when the phone calls are made.
Hope is there when the shocking gasps come out.
Hope is there when your family gets dressed for the funeral.
Hope is there when the first song is sung and the final word is spoken.
Hope is there with every tear that was shed.
Hope is there by the grave.
Hope is there every day past the burial because Hope couldn’t stay buried if it tried.
Hope lives again.
Hope is there after every one else has forgotten the memorials that mark the pain.
Hope can’t forget. Hope is always conscious.
Hope is constantly reaching out.
Hope. Is. There.
You have to take it in order to make it, though.
Hope has a name.
Hope’s name is Jesus.
Ten years later, I’m holding onto hope tighter than ever before. Each year, I latch on a little tighter because I need someone to carry me. You do too. You know the kind of carry. The kind that causes a child to jump into their daddy with arms and legs wrapped around his frame as he holds them tighter with his arms.
A few days after my Daddy had gone, I turned to my mom and said, “We’ll never get over this. But God will get us through this.”
He’s still getting us through. We’ve got a little bit further to travel.
My ten years of ‘why’s?’ have turned into ten thousand moments of ‘why we need hope’.
Until we get to the other side…to the distant shores we’ve yet to see, we’ll keep holding tightly as Hope ferries us through this storm and any other squalls that may arise.
My need for hope has been met. Have you met Hope?
His name is Jesus. He will always be there for you. Always. He will never leave you. He will never let you down. Even when things don’t make sense, He won’t. When this life takes from you, He will give new life to you.
You lost something the second you were born. Loss isn’t always obvious. But often it is. Whether you’re at the first or last day of your loss, Hope is there.
Reach out and take it. Trust me. You need it to make it.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ESV
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:1-4 NASB
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5 NIV
Want to hear more about my Hope? Go here.