I’m up early and all is dark outside. They say it is going to rain and even now I hear the drops splatter on the pavement outside.
I woke up thinking of you – your life as it was before the last six months, your life as it was the last six months, your life as it was when I saw you a couple of weeks ago.
I heard the news from mom about 9 in the morning yesterday. “It seems that Dad has left us. Waiting for Sherry.” Short messages change our worlds in big ways.
I was at work in my small, government sponsored cubicle. It seems it doesn’t matter how long I had been expecting a message like this – it still came as a shock.
I am your only daughter. It’s probably a good thing. Knowing myself and my “Princess” tendencies, it would have been a travesty to have to share that status. Early memories make me smile. You and me at the beach in Karachi, you holding me by the ocean, letting the waves come onto my good leg while my broken leg was perched on your lap. You driving along treacherous roads in the Kaghan Valley and other long trips in our trusty brown Landrover across Pakistan. Camping in the apple orchard at Bach Hospital. You and mom meeting us at the train station – us a bit shy from being so long away from you, you with your bear hug so excited to see us. You protecting me when mom and I were harassed. You and me at the Old Mill restaurant in Westminster, eating a delicious dinner as you tried so hard to find ways to communicate with your stone-faced teenager. You and me, as I walked down the aisle to say vows that you already had learned are impossible to keep without God.
I remember saying goodbye to you and mom at Heathrow Airport as I walked off to catch my flight to Glasgow. I didn’t look back. I couldn’t look back because if I had, I would have been like Lot’s wife – paralyzed, turned to stone and unable to move forward.
And then there were the trips you made to wherever I lived: Chicago, Islamabad, Cairo, Essex, Phoenix, and Cambridge. You meeting each of our children for the first time, proud grandfather to all five of them. Family was your priority and we all knew that.
Every single day you and mom have prayed for this great, big, continually growing, messy, beloved family. Every.Single.Day. And usually, by name. My early memories of you kneeling beside your bed as you raised your prayers to God are solidly planted on my memory; your later prayers as I sat with you and mom eating breakfast equally so.
You’re gone and I now face what so many friends and family have faced – realizing that your death on earth is final. I will never again see you in your chair, your face turned toward the doorway as I walk in to your home. We will not share a good curry or bowl of ice cream together, I will not have the joy of hearing your voice on the phone asking me how I am doing. Your laughter will no longer be our benediction at family gatherings.
Worst of all – you will never again do the elephant dance on this earth.
I am so grateful that you did not suffer for too long, grateful that the end was swift. I am so grateful that you are free of pain, your body whole and strong, your voice and laugh echoing across the heavens. I am so thankful for so many things, too many to list. Your death is truly a severe mercy.
But still – it hurts.
“He was 91” I tell people. “His life was rich and full, lived across oceans and continents; he lived and loved well.”
But still – it hurts.
Your death is not a tragic death – except the way all death is – and you leave a beautiful legacy, a family so rich in love and grace, a family that is spread across the globe.
But still – it hurts. It hurts so much.
I will miss you so much. I will miss your tangible love, I will miss your audible voice, I will miss your concrete presence.
Oh I know I will see you. I know you’re in a better place. I know that “Heaven has yet another angel.” I know all those silly things we say to people to make ourselves feel better.
But what feels best right now is just to say that it hurts and I will miss you.
Oh how I will miss you.
I love you Dad. And for all of us still here? Please pray for us – I think you may have better access now.
With all the love I can give from your favorite daughter,