Almost three years ago my family moved to Springfield. While my mom and sister stayed behind in Kansas to finish up work and school I unpacked and settled us into our new home.
It was during this time that I found it. In a box full of books, random business cards, staples, and old pictures that had sat on top of my dad’s desk was a leather journal.
It was a daily devotional titled “Daily Inspiration for the Purpose Driven Life.” I flipped through it quickly and saw all the journal entry pages had my dad’s signature handwriting scrawled all over them.
I couldn’t tell when he would’ve written in it. But I used the spare clippings of paper inside to figure it out. The magazine clipping of “12 Ways to Sneak Prayer into Your Day” told me the year. The list of mass times at MD Anderson Cancer Treatment Center let me know it would’ve been from when he was getting chemo in Houston. And the blue sticky note that he wrote his prayer list on told me the exact time frame because I remembered him praying for those people in our nightly prayers.
That summer I was extremely lonely in a brand new town all by myself. So I spent each day pouring over the daily devotional, reading each bible verse, and then getting to read my dad’s thoughts on that day’s reading.
I had never felt closer to him than I did that summer, getting to read his thoughts during what would’ve been one of the hardest times of his life. I remember that time frame so vividly.
We had traveled to Texas for him to receive cancer treatments, but Dad acted like it was just another vacation. We explored the town, went out for a fancy dinner, and spent hours playing in the hotel pool. But eventually Emery and I had to leave to go back to school.
Leaving him behind at the hotel was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Watching his face out of the back car window and knowing we were leaving him there for intense chemo and radiation. As we drove off he used one hand to try to quickly wipe away a tear without any of us seeing, in his other hand he held that same little leather journal.
He was writing such beautiful inspired words during such a difficult time of his life. In the midst of all of his writing, I found something that has forever changed the course of my life. It read;
“I have said many times to people, I am happy to have had the opportunity to get to know you in this temporary place called life. Life is short. Prioritize:
1) Living a Godly life
2) Husband and wife leading, disciplining children, doing everything possible to lead our kids to the Lord, so that one day in heaven we can all be together again
3) Leading others in the world to the Lord”
Those three words at the end broke my heart. “BE TOGETHER AGAIN.” But they also offered a lot of healing. Up until that point our family had seen a lot of heartbreak. We had 6 funerals in a row and it felt like the punches just kept coming.
For some reason the idea that we would be together again in heaven had never occurred to me before that moment. When someone dies people always offer out stereotypical lines like “they’re watching over you” and “they’re always in your heart” but I never actually put any thought into it.
Since then, those words have always stuck with me. Floating around in my mind. I woke up the morning of what would’ve been my dad’s 49th birthday and decided I wanted a tattoo and I knew exactly what I wanted it to say.
Which leads me to today. I’ve been writing a book about grief and healing for a long time now. And when I had to think of a title, the words came to me without even having to put any thought into them.
Writing this book has been such a journey already. It started as a way for me to work through my own emotions and a big part of me always thought it would be something I would keep private. But as I reflect back on page after page, I think my writing can be used to help other people going through the same thing.
Death is such a complex topic, and it doesn’t get talked about enough even though it is such a big part of everyone’s lives. I don’t know a single person whose life is untouched by the effects of losing a loved one, yet we still don’t know how to talk about it, how to offer other people our support while they are grieving.
This is why I have decided to move forward with writing this book as a way of helping other people navigate grief or help a loved one through it. I am beginning the process of talking to other people. Listening to their own experiences with death.
I love hearing other people’s stories. So if you or someone you know have a story to be told or something that can help other people through their darkest hour reach out to me. I would love to include your story in my own.
If this book can be used to help even just one other person cope then it will have been worth it. So I will continue to write page after page and dream of one day being published and helping other people so that one day, in heaven, we can all be together again.