Today in church we celebrated All Saints Day. It's a day where we remember those from our congregation who now dwell with the Lord. A dear friend texted me on Friday to let me know that she was thinking of my dad and laughing at how he'd react to being called a saint. He would've LOVED tooting his own horn with that title :)
Hearing his name today was so surreal. They can't possibly be referring to my strong father who supported our families and church. He filled his days with so much service, I still can't comprehend how we and all those who counted on him will adjust to life without. At times, I'm certain that I'll look and his arm will be resting on the pew behind my mother; he'll be pointing a finger at Hazel in attempt to silently control her behavior but really adoring everything she does; his strong bass voice will belt from behind me in the choir.
Nary a day goes by where someone doesn't ask me how my mom is doing or how I am doing. It's a question asked out of love and concern and it's an impossible question. When asked about my mom, I comment "as expected". She's a woman in love with one man since she was a teenager. She spent a year at his bedside joining him in his fight to live. She watched him die without the benefit of knowing that he was dying, so she was still blindsided by a sudden death.
When people are asking about me, it's so much harder to answer. "Well, I'm ok.". Happiness has a new element to it and it is lacking, it has lost it's purity. Everything is overshadowed by the loss of my father. I wonder if I'll feel as happy as I once did? Is this how everyone feels when they've experienced great trauma and loss? Is it permanent?
This loss has made me so much more aware of the preciousness of life. I reflect upon those whose families have been torn apart by war and corruption. I reflect upon those who never knew a parent's love. I reflect upon how blessed I have been in life.
This morning my mom challenged me to think of life in Heaven with the same understanding of God's time that we apply to other areas of our faith. Linear time is an earthly time, God does not live within time's constraints. Often I feel certain that my father is with me, I feel his presence. I have no idea what life after death is like, so I take comfort from thinking that my dad is watching us and guiding us. However, my mom pointed out to me that Heaven is perfect and it is impossible that my dad would be experiencing perfect peace while knowing how much pain and sadness he left behind. So, perhaps in God's time we are already saints together. Right now Jesus is being born, Jesus is being crucified, my grandchild is being born, we are reuniting in Heaven...
It's a hard concept to contemplate, but a fascinating one...
"we feebly struggle, they in glory shine; yet all are one in thee, for all are thine. Alleluia! (from hymn: For All the Saints by William How)