Yesterday was Father’s Day. We had lots of people sensitive to that fact who made sure we knew we were loved. But it couldn’t erase the fact that it was still Father’s Day and my children now have no earthly father. David said the hardest thing for him was when they recognized the dads in church and his was not standing up with all the other men. I wish I could take that hurt from him.
After church we bought a small balloon for Paul’s grave that says, “Happy Father’s Day” and tied it to his marker. The kids and I talked about past Father’s Days as we stood around his grave. We were reminded of last year. It was the craziest, nuttiest day. Paul was on call and I was doing respite care for a trio of foster siblings when one had to go by ambulance to the hospital because he was goofing around with a neighbor on a golf cart. Will was leaving for Jumpstart at FBBC and I had a lady coming to look at my treadmill. But in the midst of all that chaos, we managed to squeeze in a short Father’s Day celebration for Paul. Didn’t know it would be his last one.
Being a good father was of paramount importance to Paul. I remember in the months leading up to Will’s graduation, he asked me several times if I thought he had “done enough.” I think he did. I had a long conversation with my friend, Jen, this morning. She commented, “We know what kind of a man Paul was because we watched Will at his funeral.” Special.
We listened to Will’s testimony again yesterday on the way to church. Amazing. It’s hard to believe that this mature and composed young man is someone I gave birth to – someone that Paul and I made together. He was born to two immature people and somehow grew into this loving, strong, tender-hearted young man despite that.
You know the feeling when you’re in a swimming pool and the water is about waist-deep and you attempt to walk? That’s how I feel about everything right now. It all takes so much effort. My guess is that that is normal. Not pleasant, though.
I haven’t cried yet today, not even when I woke up. Typically, that’s a hard time because we usually woke up together. Well, we woke up together because his alarm would wake me every single morning! Otherwise, I would have been content to sleep hours past when he typically arose. Yesterday, I cried more. I would be dry-eyed and then someone at church would ask me how I was doing and I would suddenly be a blubbery mess all over again. We ate lunch with a family at church and I had to escape to the kitchen, gasping at a sudden wave of pain that came out of nowhere.
The cards continue to roll in. I must have a stack that is at least 7” tall – unbelievable. I had a letter and card today from my old first grade teacher, of all people. She said that the church I grew up in (my parents haven’t attended there since ’96) printed an announcement of Paul’s death which was how she learned of it. My Jewels of Encouragement group sent me a stack of Bible verses today that have my name inserted into them. I’m guessing there are about 40 of these, all printed onto beautiful cardstock. They have a little plate stand and I can have a new verse every day. I am so touched. I never realized that tragedy inspired such generosity in others. Why would I? I’ve never been affected by it before. My mom told me last night she is ordering some books on grief and widowhood for me. I am looking forward to those. A friend of mine prayed around the clock for me, every hour on the hour, retreating to her prayer closet (a literal walk-in closet in her home) last Monday and Tuesday. I told another friend today that I am reminded of those scenes on tv or movies where a building is on fire so the firemen whip out this parachute type of deal and put it above the ground to catch the falling victims of the fire. We’re the victims, our whole world is on fire, and that parachute is composed of the prayers of others.
I had a letter last week from one of Paul’s customers. He had a number of customers who insisted every time that only Paul come work on their furnaces. I would assume all the service techs had this. This lady heard of Paul’s death, got my address, and wrote me a glowing letter about how wonderful and patient Paul had always been with them. I know Paul had a special place in his heart for his elderly customers. He would always tell me that he wished he had more time to spend with these older, lonely people. Her letter touched me. I will have to write her back. Today, the wife of one of Paul’s co-workers called me. She said that another of Paul’s regulars had called in, requesting him, and was given the bad news. So they sent out Mike, my friend’s husband. She said that Mike got there and the lady harrumphed and said, “Well, you’re not as cute as Paul, but I guess you’ll do!” I think that was the first time I laughed since Paul died. She told me that all the service techs agreed that they are not going to cover up Paul’s stickers on the furnaces (the guys would leave Loziers stickers with their names on them so that future techs would know who had last serviced and to whom they could direct any questions).
I’ve been thinking lately about the manner in which Paul died – the suddenness. Is it better to have a long good-bye, such as with cancer or no good-bye at all, like we had? Fortunately, we don’t get to make that choice. Paul didn’t suffer. He didn’t rack up medical bills. When we went to bed on Wed. night we were laughing together about one of the kids. He kissed me goodnight and said, “I love you” like he always did. And that was it. But if I had known it was the last time – there’s so much I could have told him.
I would have told him he was my life. That I loved him. And as much as I loathe the term, “soulmate” he was that and more to me. I would have told him how proud I was of him. I would have told him that my heart still jumps when I hear his van crunch over the gravel in the alley and his footstep sounds on the back step. How the timbre of his voice still sent shivers down my insides. I hope he knew all that because I never told him enough.
David commented that the “days seem to be longer” now. I agree. The days – even the years and decades to come – stretch out in front of me right now as a bleak and barren landscape. Death is so final. As horrible as it would have been, I think I could have survived a death of a child more easily than this. At least Paul and I would have had eachother to hold onto.
If I am realistic, I know that the suffering and sorrow is only for a season. Psalms repeatedly reminds me of that. There will come a day when my heart is not nearly so raw and empty. But right now I find it difficult to believe that I will ever have a reason to smile again.