Yesterday was seven months since my dad passed away. I can’t believe it’s already been seven months. I feel like I just saw him yesterday. I think that’s part of coping for me. I always feel like he was just here. Like I just got off the phone with him. Didn’t I just talk to him on the phone? Wasn’t he just here sitting on my couch? Wasn’t he just laughing in the other room a few minutes ago? How can it have been seven months if I can still smell him like he’s standing right next to me?
In the grand scheme, I’m doing pretty good. I have gotten to the point where I actually really like thinking about my dad. Something will remind me of him, and instead of it upsetting me or me trying to ignore it, I find myself more and more relishing those memories. I ran my first long run in a long time this week, and my first thought was that I wish I could call my dad and tell him. Normally, when thoughts like that come, I try to move past them quickly. But this week, I gave myself some time to sit and think about that. What I would say to him, what he would say to me. I thought about past conversations we’d had about how proud he was of me running, and I knew he would be really proud of me for getting back out there on a long run again.
Thinking about my dad now is actually very calming and sometimes even joyful, but sometimes it can still catch my breath. Usually, it’s when something jumps out at me that I’m unprepared to see. One of my neighbors just bought the same Mercedes convertible that my dad drove. He loved that little car, and coming out of my house this morning and seeing it sitting in a driveway next door caught me completely off-guard and undid me a bit. Takes me a while to shake that off.
No, seven months isn’t long enough to take away all the pain. But time has healed my heart, that much is true. I don’t feel empty without my dad anymore, and I think that’s because I’ve learned how to bring him with me where I go. Which is probably why it seems like he was just here, why I can still hear him laugh, still feel his hug, still smell him on a golf course. I don’t believe my dad’s spirit is still here. I think he has gone on to be with our Lord, and that’s how it is supposed to be. Just as Christ said he has gone before us to prepare a place, I think my dad has gone on and is waiting for us there. But I sometimes wonder if those moments when my dad seems so near to me, if perhaps my dad isn’t thinking about me, too. If maybe in that moment while I am here thinking about him, if maybe he is there, thinking about me.
And that closeness to him in those moments seems to bridge the gap that seven months can leave behind.