My father died on June 27, 2015, after a sudden allergic reaction to a medication he’d been taking for years. He was in a coma for four days before he let go and let God take him. This is the eulogy I gave at his memorial service:
My father drove me crazy. He was big, loud, opinionated. But I loved him for it, and as many times as I rolled my eyes at him, he rolled them right back at me. I’ve always been his girl. I always go too far too fast. I’ve never been good at sitting still. I’ve never known moderation or the excuse of “that’s too hard,” and all of that is because of him. Even now, having lost him, I am not afraid. Because he made me unafraid.
But more than that, I am unafraid because I know that God is holding me in this grief, just as he’s holding my mom and brother, our family and friends, and everyone whose life my father ever touched. There’s a passage in Hebrews that speaks of our hope in Jesus as “the anchor of the soul.” I once heard a pastor say, “Think of the soul as a ship. We don’t have an anchor to keep the storms from coming. We have an anchor because the storms are coming.” And in the wake of my dad’s passing, are we ever in a storm.
My father was a force, and I don’t doubt that everyone feels his absence reverberating through their bones. Even breathing seems different with him gone. If he were here, though, he would tell us, “We have to keep on truckin’.” He would smile. He would whistle. He would sing that stupid country music he tortured us with on road trips, windows down in the dead of summer, right as we drove past the dairy farms. He would continue to find ways to do good, to help God mend even the smallest tear in our very broken world.
When he was in the hospital, we prayed for his healing. We prayed for a miracle. But once we began to realize we would lose him, I thought of a line from Sue Monk Kidd’s Firstlight: “The miracle we found was acceptance.” As far as I can see, we have two choices: to linger in grief and anger over what we’ve lost and cannot change, or to move forward in the Lord’s strength and let Him bring us acceptance. Let Him show us where joy can be found, even now. My dad was good at finding joy. I have not been, but I think I will be now. After all, I have always been and will always be my father’s daughter.