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Faith Grief

Here and Gone

One year ago, my dad was in a short 7.5 week battle that ended in his death.

I know, that’s a morbid way to start my first ever blog post, but I don’t like to beat around the bush anymore. What’s the point, you know? Life’s too short.

Last June, the 29th to be exact, my dad awoke around 2am with hiccups that weren’t exactly hiccups, but hiccupy enough to make him concerned to the point that he drove himself to the ER. They did some scans and found some growths in his abdomen. My otherwise healthy father suddenly lost his appetite, ability to keep liquids down, energy, was diagnosed with stage four cholangiocarcinoma (a rare and aggressive form of bile duct cancer), started chemo, quit chemo, came home in hospice, and entered Heaven. In 7.5 weeks.

In those 7.5 weeks, my family, being myself, my husband, and my daughters, listed the home we owned for sale, packed up our lives, moved into my dad’s home to care for him for the duration of the year the doctors anticipated he had left, made decisions regarding his care (with his consent and support), brought him home on hospice, and said goodbye to our father, father-in-law, and Peepaw. Then we planned a celebration of life service and continued to settle into the empty home where I was raised that was supposed to hold the five of us, though there were only four now. In 7.5 weeks.

He was here and gone, in the blink of an eye. Healthy, then not. Life was whole, then shattered.

If that isn’t enough for a daughter to process, he passed away on August 20th, 2019, exactly two years and one day after the passing of my mother on August 19th, 2017, of complications from Multiple Sclerosis. Grief upon grief. There is nothing like losing a parent. There are other pains of significant weight, arguably none greater, none lesser, because grief is grief and we all feel and process its weight differently. However, there’s nothing like it. Losing the people who love you unconditionally and support you endlessly, even and especially when you are in your threenage years of biting (refer to my husband’s most recent blog post for some honest humor and solid truths) and teenage years of acting like they know nothing, is a really, really hard thing. And at 24 years old and 26 years old? I was so completely shattered both times.

I’m entering those seasons again. The ones that left me shattered one and three years ago. My TimeHop has been reminding me of the hard days my family endured. This year, the season is accompanied by tears and nightmares of the physical deterioration of both parents. Both of them were here and gone, in the blink of an eye. My mom went to sleep, seemingly fine one night, but never woke up the next day. My dad went to sleep one night, woke up ill, and never got better.

Here. And. Gone.

Two days ago was a hard day. Not one I’m proud of. The emotions and memories swelling within me are getting harder and harder to process as the wounds feel a little more fresh. Two days ago, I was a little less reasonable and a little more rash with my words and responses, mostly toward my husband. Okay, only toward my husband because we are still practically in quarantine during a pandemic. It’s a super great time for me to be isolated (she says sarcastically).

After pretty much the entire day of me unloading every possible emotion, thought, accusation, blame, burden on my husband, he finally spoke up and asked me if I honestly didn’t think it affected him. Even though he didn’t lose the man who gave him life, he watched someone who loved our family fiercely deteriorate within a number of weeks. He said a lot, but finished with, “your dad was here and gone.”

It’s so hard for me to wrap my mind around other people suffering in any significant capacity from the loss because I was the one who lost everything. I lost my mom. I lost my dad. I have no siblings. It’s just me now.

But he was right. Watching a man go from here to gone in a matter of weeks? That’s enough to leave anyone questioning, anxious, scared, simply not okay.

I tried to step back from my emotions and, even though I couldn’t quite accept the fact that his grief was as valid as mine, I tried to slow my words down. After all, when emotions are high, intelligence is low.

Yesterday, while I was making lunch, his use of “here and gone” popped into my head. It wasn’t because of my dad, though. It related to something else entirely.

My emotional state from two days ago, it was “here and gone”. You see, emotions come and go. Objects come and go. People come and go. Stuff… it comes and goes.

You know what I learned (that I already knew, but need to keep being reminded of) during lunch yesterday? If the words stemming from my emotions aren’t true, necessary, or kind, they need not be spewed out on the people I don’t want to be here and gone. Aka, speak kind words to the people you want to keep.

Don’t let those here and gone emotions rule your days. Don’t let them rule your conversations. Don’t let them taint your relationships.

Even better yet, find yourself something that will never be here and gone. Find yourself something that is eternal, a firm foundation upon which you can stand. Something that grounds you when everything else is flying out of control and far above anything stationary and solid.

Yes, I’m talking about Jesus.

I can’t tell you how many times I cried out to God to just fix me two days ago. To stop the words vomiting from my mouth and to stop thinking such destructive, untruthful thoughts. I wanted Him to just fix. me.

I didn’t want to put in any of the hard work that leads to being fixed though. I wanted to go to sleep, wake up like the day never happened, and go on with life. That’s not what I’m called to as a Christ follower, however.

Matthew 7:24 says “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” I want a rock solid, firm foundation so when the storms of life inevitably come, or in this case, when the waves of grief from storms past begin to ramp up again, I won’t be tossed by the waves. I don’t want to feel blindsided by the pain and angry at those who aren’t experiencing it the way I am. I want to hear the words spoken and put them into practice so my foundation is rock solid. I want to hear and put into practice “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Philippians 4:8.

Two days ago I didn’t put much effort into thinking about such things. My thoughts were not true. I’m not alone, though I sometimes feel lonely. My thoughts were not noble. I was accusing and disrespectful. My thoughts were not right. I was not justified in my actions or words toward my husband, no matter how valid my pain is. My thoughts were not lovely. I was not a beautiful, kind, gentle person. My thoughts were not admirable. I would not want my daughters, my friends, my loved ones to follow my example and feel the things I felt and react the way I reacted. I’d want more for another because there is value and purpose and beauty that comes from every season, and I’d want them to see that, not dwell too long on the pain.

I chose not to stand on my Rock yesterday. I know the Rock. I’ve stood on my Rock so, so many times before, but yesterday I slipped. I let the waves pull me under. But those emotions are here and gone. When the waves died down, I saw my Rock was still there, exactly where He was before.

All of that to say, a lot of things in this life are here and gone. Jobs. Friends. Homes. Security. Loved ones. Emotions.

I’m writing this mainly because I want to, need to, look back at this next time those waves try to toss me again, which I can almost guarantee will be very soon as I walk the season of grief again this year.

I’m also writing this because I want to give you permission to acknowledge the waves that might be trying to pull you under. Don’t do what I do, ignore your pain until all you can do is think on the mounds of emotions rising up around you. I want to remind you that you have a choice in where you anchor yourself and your thoughts and how you respond to those waves as they come. If you see them coming, what will you think on?

Will you have a victim mentality and put the blame on the nearest person to you because they simply cannot understand why you feel the way you feel and are acting the way you are acting?

Or will you think on what is true, noble, right, lovely, and admirable?

I hope it’s the latter. Next time, I’m going to fight for the latter.

But today, I’m resting in the grace that is given to me freely, knowing that my Rock is always in the exact same place. My Rock doesn’t move, He doesn’t falter. The waves might distract me from seeing the Rock, but I know where He is. Such a beautiful grace-filled truth.

9 replies on “Here and Gone”

Wow.. you said your not a good writer.. wrong!
Your words spoke volumes to my heart Rachaell!
Loss of a parent is hard.
My story is.. I was very close to my dad as a little girl but my parents divorced when I was 8 and as he continued on with his life .
I struggled with mine.
One of those things was trying to have a relationship with him until it was just easier not to.
In 2007 I saw him again..at his funeral.
Lot of waves during that time.. guilt,shame, angry.
I kelt that pain to myself for a very long time.
Then the loss of my mom almost two years ago was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with because she was there to help me understand what I was feeling about my dad’s passing but now she was gone too.
I think I looked at her as my Rock while she looked at Jesus as her Rock.
I’ve come to understand that now.
Like you mentioned..Only Jesus can calm the waves .
Thank you for your raw honesty..and reminding me that though sometimes the storm brings waves there’s also the calmness that Jesus brings.
Your writing about Waves in life reminded me of my favorite song right that I’m using as a daily prayer.
It’s “Peace Be Still” by Hope Darst.
I look forward to reading
more on your blog..
God bless 🤗

Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I lost my father when I was 5 years old. Here today gone tomorrow. He was in a car accident. I do understand your grief and I never had my Rock until I was in my 40’s. I love that you shared this. Thank you Rachel.

Uncle Jim and I are reliving last summer too. Beginning on his Memorial Day picnic. Your dad had a fever that day but still held his last party. We thought of that memory.
On the first nice day, we said Greg would be greased up and laying on the pool deck with his music blasting. A nice memory.
I remember when you called me about my sister. I got off the phone and sobbed and begged God to not let her die. I miss my sister and your dad so much. So does Uncle Jim. Sometimes the sadness is horrible. Sometimes I can’t let myself go there.
When I lost my dad , I lost my best friend and protecter. The person who loved me unconditionally. I had an anxiety attack on his second death date. It lasted for months. I had to go through so many heart tests because my heart beat wasn’t right. I felt it was always anxiety but the doctors weren’t taking any chances. I start thinking of that every June 12th. Before that date I have to try to keep myself calm. I don’t like June.
Love you Rachael.

Rachel your words so touched my heart. I’m experiencing thise emotions the past several day. You know my story about John’s death and then 5 months later my mom passing suddenly. Here and gone. Yesterday, and I have no idea why, I was missing them and remembering the intensity of those hours of waiting, of separation from those that loved me unconditionally. It stuns me when this grief comes at me full force, especially when I feel like things are going ok. I prayed a lot yesterday and felt the Lord surrounding me. Thankful for the Rock today, and thank you for sharing your heart.

Rachael, I too lost my dad to lung cancer (just 6 mos. from diagnosis to passing) in 2017, and my mom last year (CDIF, cognitive issues). And like you I’m an only child. And I’ve also not turned to our Rock on occasion. Even at 65 it’s very tough some days and the unique grief of losing your parents is just overwhelming! But I daily try to turn it all over to Him, and it’s better…..thank you so much for your “blog”; it has been so timely and so appreciated!

Thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. I pray that God gives you the strength to endure the next couple of months. Know there are a lot of people praying for you and loving you!!

God bless you, Rachael. I am forever thankful that you allowed me to share a few of your Dad’s precious final hours. I can only imagine how much you miss him and your Mom. And God bless Tj because he is also your rock here on Earth who will stand by you even in these difficult times. I pray that you will find comfort and peace as you continue to heal from these devastating wounds. Remember, you’re still here and while there is breath in your lungs, Praise Him! Love you and your wonderful family.

I love you! Thanks for sharing your beautiful heart. Your words are gloriously authentic. Passing through the deep waters of grief can make you feel like you are drowning. But there can be found a renewed purpose in those waters and if you don’t rush through them, you’ll find your footing securely on the Rock.

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