Vulnerability? Not my thing. Public displays of emotion? Definitely not my thing. I without a doubt got over both of these in a matter of minutes.
I remember the day, November 11th, like it was yesterday. It was both a flurry of activity and yet still, a slow motion event. It was the first day that winter had truly arrived. Yet instead of a nice layer of snow covering the earth, we had a remarkable layering of ice.
I can recall the exact conversations I had earlier in the day, as well as the precise course my day took. Conversations about a biochem test I had taken the previous day, the ice that turned our campus into an ice rink, and watching Netflix in the library with a friend. The events of that morning turn slowly in my mind; for the phone call I would receive around 1:50 in the afternoon would alter the course of my life.
Tarah, you need to get to the hospital, your dad is having a heart attack. We’re in the ambulance now and on our way. Call your brother.
Running with a backpack strapped to your back is awkward enough, but couple it with a sheet of ice under your feet and you have a recipe for disaster. Praise the Lord that I made it to my car without any humiliating falls. Nevertheless, the stubborn layer of ice coating my car would definitely be my downfall. I’m pretty sure I looked like a crazy person as I slammed my car scraper over and over onto my windshield in the hopes of freeing it from its icy cage. But hey, it got the job done in a rather timely manner.
Let’s fast forward a bit. Here I am, surrounded by doctors, nurses, and tons of family, when the inevitable news is uttered. There’s nothing more we can do. I knew this was coming. I tried to ignore that voice in my head, but I knew it. After watching those incredible doctors and nurses try to revive my dad for the longest time, the truth finally had to be faced.
I full heartily believe that God had been preparing me for this very moment. Earlier in the day, about an hour before I received that call, I was sitting in class. And of course my mind was wondering and lost in thought. All of a sudden, my heart began racing and an uneasy feeling overcame me. This came absolutely out of nowhere. I even texted a couple of my friends to pray for me; I didn’t understand why all of a sudden those emotions filled my heart. Then, several minutes later, my thoughts rested on my dad. For some reason I had this strong urge to call him. But being in class, that wasn’t exactly going to happen. For a brief moment I actually contemplated leaving class to call him. But I didn’t. There was always later.
But there never was a later.
Even though tears were flowing steadily from my eyes, I pulled myself together. My family needed me. They needed to see that I was okay, that I could be there for them. Other than my dad, I was supposed to be the strong one (or at least that’s what I always thought). I found some semblance of comfort in caring for those I loved most.
In the back of my mind, though, I knew that I had friends, or rather, my spiritual family, just outside the waiting room doors. I hadn’t asked, but of course they had come upon receiving my frantic calls and texts in search of prayer. Knowing that they were present gave me comfort. Each of them walks beside me in my faith, providing Christ-like love, friendship, and guidance. And I didn’t have to pretend to be in control and strong with them.
Fast forward again. Here we all are, in the hospital waiting room, trying to figure out what to do and where to go. Most of my family had just left. I wanted to spend a few moments with my friends before following suit. A couple of others from my church were also there. And It was after my family left that I finally voiced the thoughts that filled my mind:
That’s my dad, he’s my rock.
I still need him.
He’s supposed to walk me down the aisle one day.
I then crumbled to my knees in despair, the reality too heavy to bear. In an instant I was surrounded and held. And then something beautiful took place: prayer. One by one, those around me lifted me up in prayer. Finally, there was that awkward pause where no one had said amen, yet no one else had started to pray. Before I knew what I was doing, I began to cry out to God.
I can’t remember my exact words. But I remember praising God for who He is and the love that He offers us. During those moments, Jesus’ peace settled over me and I felt God’s comforting hand being placed over my heart. I lifted up my eyes to the mountains- where did my help come from? My help came from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2).
Even though I had just lost the most important man in my life, God was there. HE was my rock, and He never left my side.
God was there when He began preparing me. God was there when I got to spend my last moments with my dad at Zach’s hockey games that weekend. God was there when my dad called in sick to work TWICE so he could go to those two games. God was there when my dad showered extra love on me one last time. God was there when my dad gave me a particularly long bear hug when saying goodbye.
And God is still here. God has not left me and He has not forsaken me. He has been graciously providing the type of peace that transcends all understanding. And each morning still brings word of His unfailing love and light.