The Unwanted Part of My Story

And just like that, he was gone.

I’ve tried so many times since the day dad died to write a blog but grief has hit me in ways I never imagined.  This was the part of the story I never dared to imagine, nor wanted to ever write about.  My dad has gone.  This had become a part of my story, a part I never wanted

As I left him the day before to get the train back to London, I had this feeling in my gut that this may be the last time I would see him.  I cleared the room and we shared a few moments together, just him and me.  I whispered in his ears how much he meant to me and I prayed holding his hand, and sang an old hymn we would sing together ‘I surrender all.’

I cried the whole way back to London, every place I went reminded me of dad.  The station car park where he picked me up and dropped me off for two years, all the cafes and restaurants we’d been to together at Kings Cross Station, the way he’d walk, the way he’d love to talk to people.

The next day I went to work but my heart was so heavy.  I knew that as every moment passed dad’s health was deteriorating and there was nothing I could do. It was a long dark day.  That afternoon I was just about to take Judah swimming and I got the call.

In one moment everything changed. A deep cry from the depths of my heart accompanied by a new acute pain rose to the surface of my life.  A new chapter had begun.

In the days that followed I struggled to believe he was really gone.  His presence felt so tangible.  It felt so right to believe he was going to walk in at any moment and say ‘let’s have some tea’.  The house felt empty without him.  How could one person carry so much presence?  How could we continue without his presence?  As one specific day progressed I felt the day get darker and darker.   I knew what I believed but I found myself questioning it all.  I questioned my faith, I questioned his journey for the last 18 months, I questioned heaven.  The more I questioned the heavier my heart became.  The more I doubted the more confused I felt.  I had never felt so alone and in the dark as a I did that day.  The next morning a friend came to visit us and he said something that literally lifted the heaviness off me.  He said ‘in God’s love, grace and mercy, He took your dad home.’ 

Something clicked in me – Dad couldn’t carry on in his suffering with cancer, so in love and mercy God took him home.  God’s grace took him to heaven, where he no longer suffers but lives healed and pain-free, happy and whole.  This truth literally set me free to have faith again.  It reminded me that I live by faith and not what I see, I live by what I believe and that’s what makes me as a Christian different.  I believe that my dad lived a forgiven life – forgiven by Jesus, and the forgiven live an eternity with Jesus.  This was my belief and this was what I was choosing to live by.  As a ‘forgiven’ child of God, I too would see my dad again.

I love that my dad is in heaven but to be honest sometimes that hasn’t helped my pain of missing him.  Grief is much harder and heavier than I imagined.  Loss is painful.  I find I carry it everywhere I go, every moment of every day.  It’s changed me and it’s invaded a lots of spaces.  I’ve tried placing grief to one side but that hasn’t worked.  It’s coming with me and on the way it will inevitably change me but as it does I’m aware this doesn’t need to be negative.  It could mould me into a better person if I allow it to.  I’m intrigued to see who this ‘new me’ could look like.  

This Saturday marks what would have been my dad’s 70th birthday.  We were supposed to be celebrating together – my 40th and his 70th.  He said we would put up a marquee in the garden and have a big party!  He loved a good celebration.  So I’ve pushed myself to write this blog in honour of him.  In honour of the life he lived and continues to live in heaven. The fight was never about cancer.  The fight was always for his faith.  Right to the very end he never let go of his faith.  He’s taught me life’s most important lesson : when the unwanted parts of your story unfold, hold on to your faith and never let it go.  God’s light will shine into the darkest of situations.  Even the unwanted parts of your story combined with faith can cause you to rise x

 ❤️ his hands were always ready to lift in praise to God, even at his weakest ❤️

The Day after Diagnosis Day

Just before I opened my eyes I wished it was all a dream.  I hoped the last 24 hours hadn’t happened.  Despite my best efforts to wish it all away, the harsh reality was that Diagnosis Day  did happen and I needed to face that.  My dad had cancer.  Sadness was what I felt but I knew it was a feeling that I needed to give to God.  I knew God could exchange that sadness for hope and He could lighten my heavy heart.  I’d experienced it before so I knew I could trust Him.  Whilst talking to Mel and unloading my feelings, he said something that made me think.  ‘Sadness is a place we all visit but you don’t have to live there.’ That’s so true I thought. If I lived there all it would do is depress me further and immobilize me.  I needed to live in the hope that God gives me.  So that morning I decided I was going to call my dad, hold back the tears and speak life and hope into this situation.  Before we talked I texted him the verse from Isaiah 43 again

‘ hey dad this is a promise from God you need to hold on to….

1 But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

As me and dad spoke he told me something that totally amazed me.  He told me that the night before’ diagnosis day’  he couldn’t sleep. So he got up and read his bible. He said he literally just opened his bible and it fell onto the story in Daniel about the three men in the fiery furnace.  A king had ordered that these men be thrown into a fire because they refused to worship him or his gods .  The King was so angry with these men that he ordered that the furnace be heated up seven times hotter than usual!!!  That was HOT!!!!  The three men amazingly and miraculously walked around in the fire and were unharmed, no single burn on their bodies.  They walked out of the fire completely untouched by it all.

Here was my dad totally unaware that the next day he’d be facing a fire of his own, reading a story about three men who were miraculously protected by their God.

Some might call that a coincidence.  I don’t.  Could it be that God, the Beginning and the End, the one who knows everything before it even happens, loved my dad so much that He would want to prepare him for what lay ahead?  Could it be that He wanted to speak with him, and reassure him that no flames could touch him?  And then for me to go and say the same words to him today!!! Wow well that just blew me away.

When you call on God and you do it in truth, He really is so near to us.  So near that you can hear Him.  So near that He’ll repeat himself.  So near that He’ll pour His strength into us to make us strong from the inside out.