This year the anniversary took me by surprise. I had chatted with Mum and Rob that Saturday morning as usual and afterwards I retreated to the quiet and the couch to read my Daily Light.
It was January 22nd, and at the top of the page I saw a note in green ballpoint ink and my handwriting that said, "Dad 'home-going' 2003."
I couldn't let the date go by without talking about it with somebody else who cared, so I called Mum back. She answered the phone with surprise in her voice to hear me at the other end again.
"Mum," I said, "I just opened up my Daily Light and saw that today is the 8th anniversary of the day Dad died; January 22nd.
"Oh, my goodness," she said, "Is it? I hadn't remembered."
I reassured her on that point. How could she remember; she who doesn't need to know what date it is from day to day?
Rob came to the phone then, from the kitchen where some pizza was almost at the point of perfection.
"Yes Belinda you're right," said Rob when I explained why I had called back. And he told me how he and John had been to the grave that week and tidied the grass around it. John had placed some flowers there. He was remembered; Rob's words were a comfort..
The pizza was calling so Rob said a quick goodbye until next week and I went back to the Daily Light and my own thoughts.
I remembered how losing him had been; the exhaustion of the grief that took me by surprise at unexpected moments; a wave of overwhelming emotion triggered by small things; the feeling of utter vulnerability and fragility.
I had expected to be the strong elder sister; to "take charge" and carry Mum and Rob, but I couldn't. I had imagined speaking at his funeral; I, the one most comfortable speaking in church. But when the vicar came to visit and gently asked about Dad's life--who he was--I realized that he expected to deliver the eulogy himself; and I was so grateful to lean into him. I sighed and felt such relief.
But then he left, his gathering of facts done, and I was overwhelmed with panic. Everything I had said seemed so inadequate. How do you sum up a life in sentences so short? I felt that I had failed terribly and got it all wrong. This one chance to tell the world who he was, all the things they would never have guessed, and I had let him down.
The next morning, it was January 29th by then, I opened up my precious Daily Light and read this:
January 29 Morning
“You are a God of seeing.”
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. . . . Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.—For a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths.—“But God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”—“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”
But Jesus . . . knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.—“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Gen. 16:13; Ps. 139:1-4, 6; Prov. 15:3; Prov. 5:21; Luke 16:15; 2 Chron. 16:9; John 2:24, 25; John 21:17Can you imagine a more perfect reading for one who thought that her father was leaving this world "unknown?" I sighed another big sigh; a sigh of relief. God knew him and needed no words of mine to do so.
All was well.