Today’s post is a pretty big deal in the “searching for daffodils” world. That’s because it’s the first-ever guest post hosted in this forum. The author is Melissa Blair, a Jesus-loving firecracker with a personality bigger than her home state of Texas. Melissa is a true wordsmith, and her work is marked by two dominant traits: unashamed transparency and wicked humor. She excels at writing in the way I long to write, and she writes what I love to read. Unlike the narrow focus of my efforts, Melissa blogs – excellently – about all things life. If you can’t find something to satisfy you on Netflix, then I suggest you surf over to www.MelissaBlair.net for some quality reading material.
Over the past four-plus years, Melissa has occasionally shared parts of her grief journey in the wake of her father’s passing. The post you’ll read, “Don’t Forget to Remember,” was originally published on her site on December 18,2014. It’s being republished here today with her permission. Thank you, Melissa.
The third anniversary marking the day my father died dawned annoyingly sunny, painfully unremarkable.
Dog needed out at a stupid-early hour.
Kids required breakfast.
Laundry begged for attention.
What was I expecting exactly?
A fitting storm of rain? Extra obedient children? An unusually still house to recognize the significance of the day my dad was here no more?
Maybe just something…different.
Although it would never do for time to just stop for one minute to honor my father’s memory, it would be nice every now and then for the earth to acknowledge it is different here now because he is not.
One of the most beautiful, necessary parts of healing can also be one of the most painful:
Life moves on.
And thankfully so.
But just months after the funeral is over, we begin to tiptoe silently around a person’s missing. I know all the noble reasons why…I do it, too.
Are we scared we will ruin someone’s good day by telling them something special about someone they loved so dearly?
I find that as more time passes and real life elbows memory for space in my brain, I cherish the gifts other people bring me of my dad.
My kids are the only people in my life to regularly ignore this unspoken code and I am ever grateful again that they are too young to behave as adults. They say things in response to a range of proud mountains and bracing air: ’Little Papa would love it here.’ They beg me to tell them again about the time he rented a gorilla suit and hung out in the woods waiting to scare all the girls at my seventh grade slumber party.
Maybe it’s just me…but on a perfectly fine day when every fine thing in the world is fine, I love when Dad walks through the door in the form of a memory. I love nothing more than to know you loved my dad so much, that maybe you love me so much, that you have not forgotten.
He was here.
He was real.
He is missed.
And life is different because of all of those things.
I crave his company more than I dread my missing.
Have you ever received a gift so beautiful it made you cry tears of gratitude in wonder at the generous giver?
I got one from a stranger just this year.
The phone buzzed beside me with an unfamiliar number. I answered in a clipped, authoritative tone to let them know to hurry make it quick and there was no fat chance I was interested in anything they were selling.
‘Hello. This is Jerry. Is David around?’
I had been reading in bed and it took me a second to change channels. Like driving a car on autopilot and running into fire hydrant…just a small collision. I sit up, at full attention to my father’s name.
I searched for words, knowing Jerry was about to have a wreck of his own.
‘Jerry…I’m so sorry. Dad passed away last December.’
I sat with Jerry respectfully in the silence, letting the shock settle, still unsure of who he even was.
A long, painful sigh and the sound a man makes when another punches him in the gut and I consoled a man I had never met, our only connection my dad.
I felt very close to this stranger.
Through tears, Jerry tells me about how when he was in prison with my father, Dad would pray with him. He was the only one that believed in him and he constantly encouraged Jerry that he could do better, be better. He told me my dad talked about his kids and his grandkids and he told me things I didn’t know. He told me he was a good man.
And this…I did know.
Jerry was calling my dad to tell him thank you.
After we hung up, I didn’t move. I wanted to savor this gift fully before letting movement, time, another person, life…tug any corner of this memory.
He was here.
He was real.
He is missed.
Thank you, Jerry, for not forgetting.
If Melissa’s writing is a blessing to you, go to her website (www.MelissaBlair.net) and subscribe to get some “happy in your e-mail!” If you liked “Don’t Forget to Remember,” then go to her site and search for “A Letter to Ones We Have Lost and Miss” or “I Wish I Could Take Dad to Wal-Mart.”