The day my earthly father died and the desire to know my heavenly father was birthed.
The days following our reunion, we kept in touch. I flew out to his place where he was taking care of his mom (which was the grandma I had never met). My (now) husband went with me. We were dating at the time. My dad and grandmother lived in a trailer park outside of Phoenix, AZ. Our visit was short and interesting, to say the least. His mom must have made 10 pies for us, bless her heart. He grilled, showed me some of his paintings and showed us around the small town they were living in. It was surreal meeting my long-lost grandmother. She told me she had always wanted him to find me, and that it was a miracle that I found them.
Our time together was bittersweet. Sweet, because there I was, visiting my dad and grandma that I grew up without. Bitter, because I noticed some things that told me that maybe my dad hadn’t been able to kick his old drug, alcohol, and abusive habits. As the time came for us to leave and I waved goodbye, I had no idea I would never see either of them again. Three weeks after our trip, my dad called to say that my grandma had died. I was shocked by the timing of it all.
Had I not found my dad when I did and had put it off any longer, I might not have ever met her. After she died, I think he had a hard time. Our conversations on the phone became less and less pleasant. After a few years of having an unhealthy relationship, I finally had to draw a line with him for the safety and health for myself and for my family. I told him that I could no longer speak to him when he was inebriated. That was the last time we ever spoke.
The day he died.
It was a Monday afternoon, following a weekend that I had been on a church retreat with my step-sister and a few other church friends. She had flown out from California to North Carolina to hear me speak on a panel with some other women that weekend. It was a special time. We had just gotten back from the beach where the retreat had taken place and I got a call. Looking down at my phone, I saw that it was my half-sister, Sue. (The only other sibling I know of on my dad’s side of the family. That’s a story for another day!) She asked if I was sitting down and went on to explain that our dad had been found dead that morning, alone, in a hotel room in Northern California with cocaine all over his room.
Three months before this happened, my dad’s only brother (my uncle) had been found dead in his home as a result of a drug-induced suicide. Now, this. When he died, the hope that I had carried in my heart that we would someday be able to have a good, father-daughter relationship died right along with him. Losing him like that was hard. Suicide is such a permanent decision for such a temporary problem. I was sad that he chose that.
The days following his death were heartbreaking. It was one of the hardest times of my life. I’m still not all the way sure why that is, but I do know that a lot of good came out of it. Looking back, that time marks the time that I truly looked to God to be my dad. It took going through all of that to realize that I was searching for the wrong guy. It wasn’t finding my dad, and then having a great father/daughter relationship with him that was going to fill the ache I had in my heart. It was God. He is actually the One that I had been looking for, but I didn’t know it. It was after losing my dad, that the desire to know my heavenly father was birthed and my journey of really connecting with Him began.
If you have lost a loved one to suicide, you may find encouragement from this previous article.
Featured Image by Priscilla Du Preez