In one year, we have welcomed sweet Baby Tillman to our family.
We’ve played soccer.
We’ve made cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving.
We decorated our family Christmas tree.
We each turned a year older.
Over and over again, we gave our hearts (and then Baby Tut Tut…) to the Lord.
We searched for joy.
Sometimes we found it.
And sometimes we didn’t.
We celebrated new beginnings with family.
We went pee pee in the potty!
We learned to depend on each other.
And we honored our family in new, special ways.
We learned how to milk a cow…
…and how to build a deck.
We gave ourselves time to remember.
And we gave ourselves permission to move ahead.
We experienced a lot of firsts as a family.
And we even laughed. A lot.
A lot has happened in a year, and I think that’s what makes the anniversary of my dad’s passing hard. It marks the passing of time without him. So many memories created, so many milestones passed, so many accomplishments made. And, though we carried my dad with us through every step, we missed him sharing in these experiences with us. Beside us and among us.
Looking back over the past year, I think my dad would be really proud of our family and the way we have carried on. We have learned how to love each other in a very different way because we’ve learned how to love each other with compassion. We’ve learned to respect each other’s individual needs during our grief, and we’ve banded together to lift each other up during the really hard days.
I used to think that grief was a phase. Something you came into and worked your way out of. But I’ve learned that grief becomes part of you. It hits you at unexpected moments, like when you find one of his golf balls in the backseat of your car or when your children ask if they can call heaven. It’s the moment when you catch your breath and realize that you haven’t seen his face or heard his voice in a year. It’s the dreams where he just happens to walk through your kitchen and sit down at the table, as though he never left. I think I will grieve for the rest of my life over the loss of my dad.
So much grief and sorrow, so much sadness and hurt. But so much joy and laughter, so much love and peace.
Blessed are we who mourn, for how deep is the love we have known.
December 26, 1941 – August 11, 2012