When I was a little girl, I had the prettiest little pink bike complete with a basket, horn...and training wheels. I was such a little scaredy-cat, I was quite content with those extra two wheels, but they drove my daddy nuts. He was determined I would learn to ride without them and I was just as
stubborn determined I wouldn't!
Daddy knew I couldn't just coast along, relying on them to keep me balanced. Not on the bike...not in life. So-o-o...one day, out came his tool box and off came those wheels.
I begged, whined, cried, pouted, threw a hissy and used just about every trick in my tool box of emotions to stop him, but for once, he was firm. His mind was made up and no amount of wheedling on my part was going to change it.
At first, I wouldn't get on, but somehow he convinced me to. (Might have been the look of exasperation he was wearing that had something to do with it.) As I climbed aboard, he gently told me not to be scared. He'd be holding onto the back and he wouldn't let go until I felt confident.
I still remember vividly, pedaling as hard as my little legs could while looking back over my shoulder and yelling at him "don't let go Daddy." and him laughing back "I won't."
After looking back about a gazillion times and always seeing his smiling face (albeit red from exertion), I started to get the hang of it and with that came a feeling of exhilaration. Without those two little wheels, I could go faster and believe you me, I liked it. I loved the feel of the breeze on my face and knowing that with Daddy's help, I was getting my first real taste of freedom. So much so, that after a bit, I forgot to look behind me, so busy was I looking at the world in front of me. Imagine my surprise, when after rounding a corner of our block, I glanced back to see my daddy running to keep up, both hands clasped together over his head in a sign of triumph.
Of course y'all know what happened next. I crashed and burned and still have a tiny scar on my knee to prove it.
As Daddy knelt down to check me over, I didn't start crying. I was too busy fussing at him for letting go. Man alive, I was one mad kid! Picking me and that bike up, he told me he would never have let go if I hadn't been ready to do it on my own. Falling was necessary to learn.
Looking back, I know he wasn't just talking about riding a bike, but about my future. A man of little words, he was preparing me for the bumps and bruises life hands out. But in his own quirky way, he was also letting me know he would always be there to pick me up when I fell.
When Daddy went to Heaven I was angry with him. Once again, he had let go when I wasn't ready for him to, but God had called him home and he had to let go. Even now I still feel the bittersweet tears welling up, but not because I'm angry. No. It's because even after 27 years, I still don't want to let go of him.
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I've wrote this for four dear friends who have recently lost their dads. While I know the grief and heartache losing a father brings, I can't begin to imagine what they're personally feeling. Everyone is different and everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. It doesn't matter if the lost one is young or old, it cuts to the bone. We feel cheated as the grief overwhelms, numbs the mind, and slashes our hearts into a million pieces. Pieces that one starts to believe can never be put back together. Even if our dads could live to be as old as Methuselah, it still wouldn't be enough time with them. We want an eternity with them.
And that is where hope and faith rebuilds what is broken.
God never lets us go...not as long as we believe in Him.
He is there to comfort where man can't.
He holds us when our own legs can't.
He catches and picks us up when we fall.
He gives us His word time and time again through prayer and in the Bible to never forsake us. Even when the world and events say different.
His ways are perfect even when we don't understand or fight to accept it.
He promises us eternity.
And in that eternity, just on the other side of the mountain, when the day comes I too must let go, I pray that Daddy will be waiting for me, his hands raised in triumph, laughing and yelling "You did it kiddo! I knew you could!"
Laura, Holli, Patsy and Richard...right now the pain is unbearable, the tears unstoppable. Having been where y'all are now, I feel helpless for there are no words of comfort I can offer other than the ones God gave me for this post.
What I can and do offer is my prayer for y'all to feel God's love through this. This is what I pray for with all my heart.
I also want you each to know when God gave me these words, He also reminded me that not all the really important people make front page news. Your fathers were important. Not just because they were good fathers, but because each one of them was a unique, fine gentleman. The work and their good works...important. Their mark on the world...indelible. Mighty big men with mighty big shoes to fill. Humble men who never thought those shoes too big for a little girl to dance on or for stepping out to help another. Those footprints will never be erased. Little by little, you'll feel the pieces of your heart gathering into them, healing the ragged edges.
And when that day comes, you'll realize (as did I) it wasn't you he let go of. He just needed both hands to reach for his savior.
I know they were as proud of you as you are of them and I know this without ever having met them. I simply look at y'all and I know.
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From my heart to yours.