August 20, 2005
It is with great hope and sincere joy that I write to you this evening. Your emotion speaks to new challenges, changes, longing for family, friends, and a new environment. A big lot to carry – but then God says “have no fear, for I am with you.” Maria, my daughter, I love you. You can do this. As the work of change proceeds, God will open up a deeper, more passionate, more consuming way for your life. Sweetie, God has made you for special things – teaching? motherhood? only God knows for sure. Colossians says “prepare for action” – Maria this is your time to prepare! I’ll be watching and caring for you with great attention these next few years. With so much going for you, with Mom, I’ll assist in any way I can. This is a wonderful place. You are very special to many – and me too! After such a great loss to have you in my life is a great gift! I wish you grace and strength to meet all that is before you.”
I love you,
Six years after this letter was written Mom and Dad died in a plane crash. I sit here, typing out Dad’s words to me, thinking how timely they are for right now. I miss him. I don’t expose my grief over my dad very often. Mom was my biological Mom. Although I was not Dad’s biological daughter, he asked to adopt me and so he did. Once the adoption was finalized, he told me he believes God changed my DNA to match his. Dad really believed I was his and I started to believe it too, but this is hard for others to understand. Because of that, sharing my grief over my dad is a different experience for me then when I share about my mom.
When I share the pain of missing my mom, it’s easily understood and received with sympathy offered back. When I share the pain of losing my dad, I find myself having to explain our relationship and how I hurt over his loss just as deep as my mom’s. I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “oh he wasn’t your real dad, right?” or “ok, so you are the step-daughter. I was thinking you were his real one?”, or when I talk about my pain from losing both parents, I’ve heard “your mom was so wonderful. I’m sorry that you lost her.” Uh, hello?! I lost both of my parents, I was talking about both of my parents!”, I want to yell as to remind them I hurt just as bad over Dad’s death as I do Mom’s. I lost two parents that day. It’s not always but it is often that I walk away from a conversation about their death thinking, “they must not understand Dad’s death is just as painful as mom’s. They must not understand the depth of love we had for each other and the great impact of his loss.” and it’s painful and makes it hard to want to share about the grief over him. It feels like something only a few understood. Because of this, I often quiet my pain over losing Dad…but not tonight. Tonight I speak my grief, my pain, my ache for my dad. Eleven years later, here is my response to you, Dad:
It is with great hope (that I will see you again in heaven) and sincere joy (knowing you get to see Jesus’ face) that I write to you this evening. Tonight my emotion speaks to new challenges, changes, longing for family (you and mom and Jesus), friends, and a new environment (heaven). You are right, it is a big lot to carry – but then God says “have no fear, for I am with you.” and, as my dad, you taught me how to walk out faith in the midst of fear. Dad, my father, I love you. I know you knew I could do this, and I will. I will keep walking in faith. Dad, you were right, God did open up a deeper, more passionate, more consuming way for my life. God has made me for special things – to train up three little disciples, your grandkids. Colossians says “prepare for action” – Dad, I’m preparing and will continue! Thank you for watching and caring for me with great attention over the years of life with you. You did so much more then assist mom, you were the man in my life. It’s with tears I say, I love you and treasured my time as your daughter! After such a great loss, you are still one of my greatest gifts. The memories with you are far better then the ones without you. I really hope Jesus lets me run into your arms when I get to Heaven.
I love you,
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”