I still can’t believe I was out of town when I heard the news. The man you’d called Dad for twenty years. Not the biological one but the day in and day out one. He died unexpectedly. A terrible, terrible tragedy.
It took me back. To 04-05-06. I got a call that my own father had passed. The biological one. And most days the day in and day out one.
Oh, how I wanted to be there for you. But I found myself 400 miles away. Sorrowful because of your loss. Stunned by the new reality for your mom and your family.
Remembering how complicated it was to grieve for someone while still miles away. Shaking my fist at God for giving us this new common ground.
You are my friend. Such fun and I love watching our daughters enjoy their friendship. But more. We did Bible study together. Part of the same church family. That makes us sisters.
Our other sisters were saddened too. One expressed her desire to do anything, anything, to make a bit of the pain go away. She felt helpless. But sometimes, you just have to hold hands and walk through it.
So, from a distance, I tried.
In our day of social media, I immediately private messaged my condolences. Your days were a whirlwind of making funeral arrangements, helping your mom, visiting with friends and family. Until we could talk on the phone, I offered sympathy and promised to pray from a distance.
When we did talk on the phone, I listened. Until my dying day, I’ll continue learning how to sit in the silence. Being quiet offers such value. And I am so bad at it. I promised upon my return I would be there. Visitation, funeral, graveside ceremony, funeral meal. I’d be that familiar face you could see through tears of grief. Always there.
Those are the people I remember at my dad’s funeral. That one big hug from his childhood best friend. Whispered words of truth from a brother-in-law who also lost his dad too young. The ones who sat silently beside me at the funeral luncheon.
Following the phone call, upon your request, I looked up several verses you could turn to for comfort. Psalm 139 as a reminder that God knows our inner most being. He loves us and has made us perfectly. Our life, and death, are in his hands.
Revelation 21 for a picture of that heavenly place where you will reunite with your stepdad someday. The picture of “all this” we have coming gives us hope and comfort.
Again, this took me back to those first few hours when I found out Dad was gone. In my haste to pack for home, I had left my Bible behind. When I arrived at my in-laws, our one stop to break up the long drive, all I could think of was reading God’s Word.
I didn’t need it quoted to me right then. I wanted to touch it, read it for myself. Time between me and a Father who knew how much I hurt.
What a blessing I arrived home in time to attend the funeral events.
True to my word, I walked each step of the journey. I hope no one noticed I slipped away from the graveside a bit early. The memories came flooding back when I saw your family say that final goodbye.
How can we be expected to do that?
These times are hard. But we must be there for one another.
At times like this, I often feel awkward and worry about saying the wrong thing. So, instead, I relied on my presence being the comfort. I hugged, touched shoulders, grabbed hands, spoke when it seemed appropriate. I tried to be a supportive friend. Further, a representative of our Great Comforter.
Please know I intend to walk through this grieving time with you. In the days, weeks, months, even years ahead. When you need to talk, I’ll be a listening ear. If a good distraction is what you really need, I am all about it.
A friend of mine shared a comforting trick she keeps up her sleeve. When a loved one of hers loses someone, she marks the anniversary of the death in her calendar. She’ll call her friend on the anniversary. Maybe mail a card. I love that. Watch for a card next year about this time.
Between now and then, you and your family have a year of firsts ahead of you.
Like this past week when we met for breakfast. At your stepdad’s favorite restaurant. The first time you’d been there since he passed. As God would have it, we walked in and saw your mom sitting with all her granddaughters. Their first time to revisit this special family restaurant as well. Don’t you know your stepdad grinned at that?! An impromptu meeting at his favorite spot.
I have no idea if I served you well in your time of grief. There is nothing anyone can do to take your pain away. Instead, I listened to God’s prompting. Talk little. Sit much.
Maybe we can learn together how to carry one another’s burdens. I know I’ll someday need you just as much.