Some days it feel like it has been an eternity since this dreadful day last year. Other days my emotions are as raw as the day he passed. But, in reality it has been one year since my Dad passed away.
I have learned and grown so much in the last year as a woman, a daughter, mother, wife and person. I have learned what really matters in life. I have learned more of my Savior and his love for me and my family. I have also come to accept his atonement more fully in my life and recognize his tender mercies.
I have learned that people grieve in so many different ways. Some wear their feelings on their sleeves, some are guarded and hide their feelings, some eat their feelings and the list could go on and on. Most therapists/people agree that you must go through the five stages of grief before you can fully move on.
1. Denial and Isolation:
Somedays I still feel in denial. I imagine it is my subconscious way of guarding myself so I'm not an emotional mess all the time. I was there when he died, I was there when he was buried but someday's I'd rather pretend his passing was a bad dream we will all wake from soon. There are days I walk through my parents front door and I think he's going to be sitting in his chair waiting to greet me. I try calling him or sending him text messages all of the time. Even after his funeral I thought to myself, I can't wait to get home and tell dad about all of the people I saw today and what a great service it was. What a dumb thing to think of, it was his own funeral!
This is the only step I really don't agree with. Some of you may challenge me and say that I really haven't grieved yet because I have yet to be angry. I want to explain why I'm not angry. Who could I possibly be angry with? My dad? What's the point? I am not angry with any of the medical staff that tried so hard to save his life. I know they did everything they should have and more. I am not angry with God, how could I be? He gave me an amazing gift. He gave me the chance to have Steve Rhodes as my father for 27 years. How could I possibly be mad at that? I knew someday he would die, I was just hoping it would 25+ years later. I am sad that my children won't know their Papa in the way that most children get to know their grandparents. I am sad that he won't be there when my younger brothers graduate from college/Doctorate school or get married. I'm sad that he won't be there to greet future grandchildren into this world, and be there to watch all of his grandchildren grow into the amazing adults I know they will be. I am sad for the other experiences and memories we won't get to share with him in person but I'm not angry. I just don't see the point.
This is one struggled with for months. As a medical professional I questioned myself over and over if I missed a sign that he would go into cardiac arrest 20 minutes after seeing him for the last time. Was he hurting and I missed the signs? It took many hours on my knees praying but I was reminded time and again that his death was part of God's plan. I didn't miss anything and in order for his life to have even attempted being saved, the circumstances couldn't have been better. Co-workers saw him collapse, and they started effective CPR immediately. The medic crew was there within minutes and transferred him quickly to the hospital, where he received the best possible care. I know everything that could have been done, was done. He was essentially gone when he collapsed and everything that happened after that was for our benefit. Giving us the gift of goodbye was just one of the tender mercies from Heavenly Father my family has experienced since he passed.
This one should be a given and I know that all of my family members have gone through bouts of depression at different times since his passing and all in different ways. He was a huge part of our lives. How could we not be occasionally depressed he isn't with us physically anymore?
This one took longer then the rest but I am at peace, and I am accepting of his death. While the pain is still real and I still experience sadness, I know with all of my heart that for whatever reason God needed him more then we did. It was part of His plan. I know that "The Lord giveth and the Lord Taketh away."
Through out this experience my belief in God the Eternal Father and His son Jesus Christ has been strengthened a million times over. As I think about the experiences I've had, I am reminded of the poem "Footprints in the Sand." It is about a dream where a person saw two sets of footprints in the sand. One set belonged to them and the other to the Lord. Scenes of his/her life flashed before them. At the end of the poem the person asks "why when I needed you most did were you not there for me?" To which the Lord replied "When you saw only one set of footprints it was then that I carried you." Never in my life have felt that presence of God stronger in my life then I did in the hospital room as my Dad took his last breaths. I knew he was there with my family carrying us through this difficult trial.
God is real. He knows you. He knows your needs, your fears, your sorrow, your pain. He loves you and will never forsake you in your times of need if you will come unto him. He sends an invitation to partake of his glory, to be washed free of your sins and live forever with him. Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned is to be the person you would want to be if you were about to meet the Lord. You never know what the next moments will bring. My dad's example of living his life according to the will of God and knowing he was prepared to meet his Savior is such a blessing to me. I am thankful for God's plan. For the knowledge it gives me that I WILL see my Dad again. I am grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that he suffered for me, he carried my burden's, he has felt my grief, my sadness and pain and because of Him, I can have the chance to live in his presence again.
Whatever happy means to you, find your "happy" and embrace it.
Daddy, enjoy spoiling your grandson before you send him to me in a few more weeks. Give him lots of hugs and kisses, teach him how to wave under his chin, to play peek a boo, to give the worlds greatest bear hug, to work hard, and how to be a kind, loving individual. I hope you are enjoying your time Gramps, your brothers, and the Duke himself. Until we meet again. I love you and miss you everyday!