It’s another weekend. Not another “normal” weekend, by any stretch of the imagination–it’s Father’s Day tomorrow. This is a “first” I’ve been dreading as a widow.
How in the world do I get my boys through a day dedicated solely to Dads? They just had the best Dad imaginable walking beside them, encouraging them, teaching them, praying over them…..and he’s been in heaven now for almost a year.
My plans are sketchy. I do know we will skip church (sorry, Lord, I hope You understand). From years spent in God’s house on Father’s Day, I can pretty much guarantee a sermon devoted to fathers, and all sorts of side references, including the song I haven’t been able to sing since losing my dad in 2004: “Faith of our Fathers.” We are most definitely NOT up to that tomorrow.
What we will do is celebrate Mark. We will give thanks for him, along with our God who has carried us, mostly, for eleven months. We will remember and laugh about all the wild and crazy shenanigans he got us into (Mark, not God). We will share our favorite Mark phrases, and do our best impersonations of his walk, his approving stance (feet spread casually apart, hands on hips, head nodding approvingly, a smile as big as Texas), and be grateful for the time we had with him this side of heaven. We will cry. I’m doing that now, as I type. But that’s okay. Tears are healing.
|Gathering wheat for Mark’s dad’s grave, Memorial Day weekend, 2010 in Kansas|
As I log onto my blog this morning, I look incredulously at the title “An Unimagined Journey” and the subtitle “You never know what God has in store”. How did I come up with these last September, after only being a widow scarcely a month? Both define our lives magnificently and succinctly–it can only be the hand of God. He was working overtime for us then, and continues to do so now. I barely knew what I was doing, as I stumbled through days, half-zombie, half-mommy…driven only by my promise to Mark, to make our boys my priority, to do the best I could to continue raising them in the way we had together planned. Many of those days are a blur, as family and friends and my heavenly Father cared for me, prayed for me, helped me put one foot in front of the other.
A year ago this month, Ben and I had just finished up a week in Kansas, spent at the family farm. He attended Space Camp at the Hutchinson Cosmosphere. I leisurely soaked up the local scene, finding my way around the rural hamlets, running on soft gravel through wheat fields in the early mornings. I truly felt at home there for the first time, which was such a blessing, considering our plans to move up there in July 2013. I realized that Mark could take this city girl out of Wichita Falls, drop me into rural central Kansas, and that I would be okay. I began looking forward to that date as much as he was.
Less than two months later, I was making a return trip to that farm with only our sons. Mark’s body travelled before us, and we buried him in his home church’s cemetery, a scant quarter mile from the home he loved more than all of his siblings combined. The wheat fields of the family’s home section are just beyond the cemetery. There was never any question of where he would want to be buried. His physical body is at home, in Kansas.
His spirit, however, is very much alive. We feel him near us. A.J. says he’s with him on the pitcher’s mound during his ball games. I swear I feel a warm spot on his side of our big bed on nights when I do not even venture over to that area. I see him everytime I look at my courtyard garden, as his perennials flourish in the Texas summer heat.
Most importantly, I see him in his sons. Man, they are something. They got the best of both of us! One looks like him, the other acts like him. Both are good things. They are my cheering section, my biggest supporters. With them, I feel like I can do anything. And with God, I am sure I can. They stand on either side of me, ready to step forward and live, as their daddy wants.
They are his greatest legacy. They tell me whenever they’re grown, married and have sons of their own, they will name one Mark. How fitting. I think that’s the best Father’s Day present he could ever hope for.
Happy Father’s Day, Mark. We will continue to live and make you proud.
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