About a year ago, I sat in the front yard of my parents' house, watching my dad scramble all over the roof at precarious angles, installing Christmas lights. He was crawling around like a monkey and scaring the crap out of me. From my sunny spot on the grass, I yelled "If you kill yourself, I will be really mad at you. I still need you!"
Four months later, my beloved father passed away unexpectedly.
For years I have longed more than anything in the world to be married and have children. For years I have been frustrated and driven to tears that I was still alone. This, my friends, has been one of the greatest gifts of my singleness, and it took one of my biggest nightmares for me to realize it.
I have been single and going at it alone for a long time. It hasn't been easy, but because I have no family of my own, I frequently found myself with my parents. There was no juggling of holiday schedules - it was just the three of us. If I wanted to get away for a weekend? Go spend the weekend at Mom and Dad's.
My father and I have always been close. I could talk to him unlike anyone else. We had similar senses of humor. He was so giving and loving. I loved to spend time with him. I loved to go to the hardware store with him, even as an adult. I enjoyed going on motorcycle rides with him. I liked that at night, when my mom would go to bed early, Dad and I would still be up late talking. We spoke on the phone almost every day. The last year of his life he was traveling quite a bit. I made a concerted effort to call him every time that he traveled so that he wouldn't get lonely.
He was the only man in my life. I could always count on him. He could talk me off of a ledge better than anyone. Tonight I lay in bed, tears streaming down my face, missing him so much it literally takes my breath away. But through the tears, I am still so very thankful for this season of singlehood in my life. I was able to get to know my father on a much deeper level because I had the time for it. How blessed was I?
After his death, people would cluck sympathetically and ask if we were close. I think regardless of closeness, death will always hurt. But what really shocks me is how many people say to me "I can't imagine how much that hurts, but I can't even THINK about losing my mom." I find this so sad. Don't get me wrong. I am extremely close to my mother and I don't even want to try to imagine my life without her. But it's sad that in our society, fathers are not stepping up to the plate. It's sad that their value is downplayed. Fathers are so critically important. I had the best.
In the next few weeks, I face some hard times ahead without my dad. It seems like he was just here. It is wrong that he's gone. I don't wish him back. I know he's in a better place. But I still long for a tight hug from him. For a phone call from him. For him to try to show me some ridiculous plane crash video that he found online (that requires me to ask "This isn't one of those trick videos that anything will jump out of and scare me, is it?"). To listen to him sing as loudly as he could in church, his toe tapping and his hands beating the rhythm on the pew in front of him.
He may not have been the man I was looking for during this season of my life, but I was never alone. I had my dad. And I'm so grateful for that time.