Tuesday, May 19, 2009

His Forever Girl

     It was my first time coming back since I said goodbye.  I knew it would become more real.  Distance does that sort of thing to you.  You know the facts, but it doesn't seem true when you’re not there to be reminded.  I have returned to the place where I heard the last "I love you."  Today would have been my father's 74th birthday.

     February 25, 2009, he breathed his last.  The fragility of the moment still plays out in my mind.  Surrounded by love, his physical experience ended as his eternal one began.

     It all began on May 19, 1935, in a small farmhouse in Boone’s Hill, Tennessee.  His life was challenged from the very beginning.  He was delivered by an inebriated doctor.  As his tiny blue body struggled to breathe, his parents wondered if he would live.  The heavens rejoiced as that first cry escaped his lungs. 

     Times were tough and money was scarce.  Early in his childhood, their small house caught fire.  He was told to gather his sister and head to the creek.  His parents tried to rescue their meager belongings while the fire consumed their house.   What does a small child do with that?

     His father was in the Army and there were times his mother was the only parent present.  His childhood was spent moving from town to town.  He moved 8 times before finally settling down in Chattanooga.  It's where he met and fell in love with my mother.  It's where I was born and raised.  

     I was my daddy's girl.  I still am.  I miss him so terribly at times that my heart aches.  Sometimes I wish I had one last conversation... one last day to tell him all the things that I've thought of since he left.  Some days I imagine him watching me.   I envision him gathering my tears and taking them to Papa God.  I believe he sees all that was in my heart towards him.  I believe he lives in complete love now, aware of how deeply he was loved.  It's what comforts me.


     Sometimes you don't see things until after the fact.   Imperfect beings who struggle to know they are themselves loved, are hindered from revealing how deeply they love.  It does not change the facts though.  Love waits in the hearts of all mankind to be revealed.  We are after all created in the image of God, the One who is love. 

     I realize the brokenness of this world when I see the lies that I battled for so long.  Love was always there in my father's heart.  At times he himself was too broken to let it out.  He didn't know how.  At times I didn’t know how to see it.  I translated his actions or lack of them and somewhere in the mix, things got screwed up.  

     I see the truth now and it’s staggering.  Love was waiting for me before I took my first breath.  First with my Papa God and secondly with my daddy.  For too many years I was blocked off from both unable to receive.  I tried to earn my way, it only hindered things.  Either way, it doesn’t change the facts.  Love was always there waiting.  

     I could not embrace the love of another until I received the love of God as it was, a gift.  A gift is meant to be opened and received, no strings attached.  Once I received and took this gift as my own, my world opened up.

     An enemy prowls around seeking to destroy what God ordained.  For the truth is, if we live as ones who are loved, we will be the very breath of God on the earth.

      There’s something about losing a parent that changes things.  Though I know life was hard at times, those memories are fading.   What I now see is that all along there was love, sometimes hibernating, but always there.

      Life is fleeting.  It vanishes in a vapor and is no more.  Before my daddy’s life vanished I was given a gift.  As he struggled to breathe I told him once again that I loved him.  He, through labored breaths tried to tell me he loved me too.  It was then I said, “It’s OK Daddy, you don’t have to tell me, I know you love me.”  And I did.  I carry those brief seconds with me for they are the declaration of my reality.

    But today, if for one more moment, I could have one more conversation, I know what I would say.   "Daddy, the love that was borne 74 years ago in your heart lives on today.......  in me.”  “Your forever girl.”


Crown of Beauty said... Reply to comment

Oh dear Julie, how this post makes my heart ache, for my own Papa who had such a love for me.

Your words are so tender, your emotions so real, it's as if I could feel what you are feeling.

In the telling, your heart receives a measure of healing. This is how blogging, and journalling, helped me live with the pain and the loss I felt over my own husband's death.

I read in an excerpt of a Jewish book, though, that there is no pain that can surpass the one feels at the loss of a parent. Of course I will not argue with that, however I cannot totally agree. When my husband Ernie died, for weeks my world was black and empty, and my heart was numb.

But also, though both my parents have moved on years ago, there is still a wound inside caused by their death, that will never completely heal. That I know. I still miss my mom and dad, up to now.

I appreciate reading your tender heart, your tender words of love.

Makes me want to be with you, and hug you, hold your hand. Just to be there. No words are necessary.

What a hero your dad was... and still is!

Katie said... Reply to comment

You're so right...in how you see things differently when you lose a parent. My mother died almost four years ago, and my sister and I have talked several times now about how we see her, ourselves, and our relationship so much more clearly, now that she's gone. Maybe it's because we can now see it from the outside, rather from the inside. I don't know.

God gave me a gift before my mother left, too. She was in Maryland, and I lived in Florida. I knew she wasn't doing well, but she had gone through bouts of not doing well off and on for years, so I did not know this was her last. Yet, on a Thursday, about noon, I felt a prompting to call her. I almost didn't. When my aunt answered the phone, I asked to talk to Mom. My mom got on the phone and in a very breathless and tired voice told me that she was about to take a nap, and she'd talk to me later. I told her that was fine, I just wanted to tell her I loved her. She said she loved me, too, and she'd talk to me later. She died a day and a half later.

But that was a gift...just that last, simple exchange of I love you that God gave, by prompting me to call at what I later found out was one of the few moments she'd been awake that week. He is so good!

Sita said... Reply to comment

I could feel your grief and know that God is working and transforming in the pain. I just got an email that my childhood friend's Dad is in his last days and I just read another's tirbute to her mother, here,

I know that I too will face that cavernous hole of grief in the near future and I pray that I will know His filling even as I pray that for you and Lidia..
Love, Sita

Cyndi said... Reply to comment

There is something about losing a parent that is so primal. There is still a little child in us somewhere that needs its mommy or daddy. I lost both parents within 3 weeks of each other (their deaths were premature, unexpected, and unrelated) two years ago next month. So I feel for you, and am sending prayers.
God Nuggets Blog

christy rose said... Reply to comment

It is wonderful to be "Daddy's girl"

It touches the places in our hearts that nothing else can ever touch.

Knowing we are loved makes us able to just begin to love others. It is so true the love that is in others for us lives on in us for them and others!

I loved reading this today. Thanks for sharing!

Tracy said... Reply to comment

Oh Julie, What beautiful, tender words for your Dad. Precious.

Incredibly, my husband and I are both still privileged to have all 4 parents. My in-laws are in their mid & late 80's, my parents in their mid-60's. I often wonder what life will look like after they are gone. I love to think that the not-so-good memories fade as the love remains and moves to the forefront. I believe as you do, that through the mysterious ways of our Papa, your Daddy knows those things you long to tell him. No doubt he's so proud of you.

Sending heartfelt hugs and prayers...

Amy said... Reply to comment


This is absolutely beautiful!

I can imagine your daddy's face beaming as he watches the "BEAUTY" unveiling in you, his forever girl.

With love and prayers,

Karen said... Reply to comment

What a loving tribute to your dad! I especially loved this.."Sometimes you don't see things until after the fact. Imperfect beings who struggle to know they are themselves loved, are hindered from revealing how deeply they love."My parents are still living, but I experienced the death of a very special grandparent last year and can relate to what you have shared as it applied to him. After my granddaddy passed, so many things were made apparent that I had been blind to before.

I thank God for these "treasures" on earth He allows us to know and love so we may get a glimpse of His precious love.

Jensmere said... Reply to comment

Such a beautiful post, Julie! It is a real comfort to think of our loved ones, surrounded by pure love!

Bless you,

Billy Coffey said... Reply to comment

My thoughts and prayers are with you today, Julie. And I'm thinking, too, of your father, who is smiling down and showing off his daughter to the angels.

Shanda said... Reply to comment

I still have a hard time going to my grandmother's house... it's been over 3 years. Thank you for being a true source of encouragement.

I also wanted to let you know I've linked to your site from mine... I nominated you for an award. I know they are time consuming, but at least wanted you to know how much I appreciate you!!!

Liz said... Reply to comment

Another beautifully written, awesome post.

I'm gald you were able to spend your Dad's birthday with your Mom.
I know she appreciated you being there.

I can feel the love!!!!

Cindy said... Reply to comment

Oh Julie, when I read this post my heart just breaks. The 22nd of this month it will be 10 years since I held my fathers hand as he breathed his last.

So much of our stories could be written together. So similar would my words be, especially not being able to receive God's love. I still don't think I can really grasp it.

I know I don't deserve it, but He does freely give it. I just can't feel it and just now in my life I am desperate to feel loved.

This is a beautifully written and inspiring post as all of your are.

Thank you for sharing and I'll be praying.

Tea With Tiffany said... Reply to comment

This reminds me of my dad's experience with losing his mom. Wow! Thank you for sharing this exchange of love. I'm so touched by your post. You reveal truth in amazingly beautiful ways.

Love you,


Tammy said... Reply to comment

Reading your words, I felt your emptiness and the hope of eternity with your dad.

I remember when my grief was fresh and the empty spot in my heart when I lost my dad. His death was the first real lost I had experienced in my life.

It has been 8 years since my parents death. There are still times when I do something or remember the yesteryear's and the waves of grief swept over me.

I use to try a run from them but now I just sit at the shore and enjoy the memories.

Thank you for your comments and I hope you will visit,again.

love and hugs~Tammy

Sarah Dawn said... Reply to comment

Delighted to meet you! After leaving a sweet comment on my blog, I just had to meet you. I am new to this blogin' adventure but overjoyed to find such freshness and jewelz hidden in your words. They sparkle for Him.

Hugs from this missionary mommy,
Sarah Dawn

Trying to send this again, goodness I'm still learning