On this very evening a year ago, I had no idea that my life was about to change. No idea.
It was just another day of Christmas vacation, home from college…well not exactly. I was still at home because my dear friend Tiffany was getting married! Being an RA, I should have already been on a flight back to Springfield.
Anyways the other girls in the wedding were crashing at my place and we were planning to set everything up for the rehearsal dinner that evening. For some reason, that to this day I am not sure of, I let the other girls go ahead to run errands and decided to have lunch ready when they came back.
For some reason, also unknown to me, my daddy wasn’t at work that day. He was helping me clean the kitchen and get lunch ready for everyone. Somehow, we ended up in this super deep super long discussion in the kitchen while waiting for everyone to come back. He was leaning against the counter next to our microwave and I on the oven. We talked about boys and owning a house and him retiring soon and me moving to Seattle… I kept telling him that I needed to go and get ready…but for some reason I just kept lingering in the kitchen and our conversation.
You know it’s funny because the house was packed for lunch…but somehow I can still see my daddy sitting at the end of that table as we ate Te’s favorite, tuna burgers. He just listened to all of the wedding chatter and made some of his awful jokes from time to time.
I like that I can still see him there.
The rest of the day I’m not sure of. I just remember getting dressed to go to the dinner…I wore a new lace dress that I had got on clearance at Target with some black tights and heels (you’ll have to forgive me…I have a memory like an elephant…) my mother was not thrilled with my choice when I walked into kiss them goodbye…but daddy quickly chimed in that I was simply going for that “west coast” style…oh daddy.
The rehearsal dinner was beautiful. We laughed and cried as we all talked about our friendships with Tiff and Lucas and enjoyed a lovely dinner….you know sometimes I still look at pictures from that night and cry. The last pictures I ever took with a dad…wow what a funny way to think, but I guess grief just does that to you. All of a sudden there is life with my dad and life without him, that’s become the way I categorize. It’s like everything in my life revolves around that date…that moment.
It was snowing really badly outside. I remember trying to scrape all of my windows in peep toe high heels…they were the only dressy shoes I had brought home from college…I also remember getting lost on our way home and having to call our neighbor to get me back. I couldn’t call my daddy because he was already asleep….he was already asleep.
I didn’t get to say goodnight to my dad and I really am not sure what the last thing I said to him or he said to me was…
All I remember is waking up to a turn of events that led to me no longer having a dad.
If I would have known, I would have moved us from the kitchen into the living room earlier that day. I would have curled up on the couch next to him, thrown my arms around him and just listened while he told me everything he knew about life…I wouldn’t have even minded how many times he repeated himself. I would have asked everything I could have thought of about life. I would have asked what he would have said to me at my college graduation and on my wedding day and when he met his first grandkid. I would have told him how much I adore him. That he was my hero and that I love Jesus as much as I do because of him. I would have thanked him for teaching me how to work hard and never quit and how to love people and be a good friend and that family is more important than anything. I would have told him that I’m clumsy and flighty and always busy because of him. But most of all I would have told him that he is by far the most amazing daddy in the world and I am so thankful that he was mine. And oh, I would have cried and cried hard just so he could have known how much I was going to miss him.
But of course I couldn’t have known. Life doesn’t work that way. God doesn’t work that way.
But, that doesn’t make life or God NOT good.
Often times I think that it would have been easier if I just would have had a chance to say goodbye or if I would have seen it coming or if I could have had a chance to pray for him or ask other people to pray for him. If only I would have known…but somehow I know that knowing wouldn’t have made it any easier because I still never could have fit the rest of my life into those few moments I was given with my dad…and then I would regret having too few of moments.
The hard truth is that we can’t know…we just have to trust and do our best to make the most of every single day.
Because I know now that we can never know…I have learned this.
To never, never, EVER take the people that are in my life for granted. I have learned to never go to sleep angry with anyone, to work things out and say what needs to be said no matter how hard it may be in that moment because it may be the last moment I have with them. I have learned to always, ALWAYS tell people how much I love them, the things that I appreciate about them, and the ways that they have changed my life because I never want to lose them without them knowing what they have meant to me. I have learned that every relationship God has given me is a valuable one and one that should be fought for and treasured.
I have learned that life is short and it’s fragile. We are blessed with every breath that we take and we can never know when our last will be.
I am so very, very thankful to not carry any unsettled regret with my daddy. Jesus was so good to me in the way he let me share that last day with my daddy. His timing was lovely despite my understanding of it. Of course I am sad because there is so much more I would have loved to say and I worry that I didn’t say enough when I had the chance, but underneath those little, last moment regrets are just a lot of really lovely, wonderful memories and those far outweigh any regrets.
But the question I so often have to ask myself is, do I have that peace with every person in my life. If at any given moment someone in my life were to be gone, could I lie in bed at night and simply be sad because I lost them? Or, would I have to constantly face the truth that there were things I should not have said and so much more I should have?
So, this is simply a note to say, don’t let yourself ever have to look back and say, “If I would have known…” Appreciate your life and the people in it and count every moment that you are given as a blessing :)