This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children... We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him! (Romans 8:15-17 MSG)
"Go to sleep!" I screamed.
"Too loud, Mama." My 18-month-old son covered his ears and cried.
I stormed out of his room, slammed the door, and collapsed onto the top step of the stairway. Jay cried in his crib, while I sobbed on the stairs. I'd been trying to get him to sleep for almost an hour. Now, my loud outburst assured no napping today. I was frustrated, but also amazed I'd screamed at my son. And in the periphery of my thoughts was the overwhelming knowledge my precious father was dead. Never again would I hear his gentle southern drawl or experience the warmth of his embrace.
Five months earlier, Daddy received a colon cancer diagnosis. We'd assumed his digestive issues were a side-effect of Parkinson's medication. But testing produced the unexpected and devastating diagnosis of cancer. Daddy's weakened condition made surgery risky. He decided to spend the remaining time at home.
I helped Mama care for Daddy, while friends, family members, and my husband cared for my children. I also took a fast-track real estate broker's course so I could take the state exam and keep Daddy's office open after his death. One day bled into the next as I fielded phone calls from those concerned about our family, helped with Daddy's care, studied, and tried to keep my household in some semblance of order.
On the day I completed the real estate broker's exam, I drove straight to my parents' home. My father was in bed. I climbed in beside him, put my head on his shoulder, and told him how much I loved him. At midnight, I rode in the ambulance with Daddy to the hospital, while my husband followed with my mother. By the next morning, Daddy was in a coma. He died later that day.
Now, as I sat on the stairway, there was nothing to cocoon me from the harsh reality of my father's absence. The funeral was over. The helpers had returned to their homes, families, and routines. The visits and meals ceased. My daddy, the one who was always there to offer wisdom, solve problems, love, and care for me, was gone. The transition from caregiver-daughter back to full-time mom seemed overwhelming.
Lord, how can I "do" life without my father? I prayed. Just let me die too!
"I am your Abba, your Daddy. Trust me. I will help you," the Holy Spirit whispered.
A tiny seed of hope sprouted. I could survive the loss of my earthly father. My focus now was on my heavenly Father, the one who cared even more about me than my Daddy.
And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, "Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6 NIV).
I swiped away tears, stood up, and eased open the door to my son's room. He sat in his crib, snubbing, holding a cloth diaper against his cheek.
"I'm sorry, buddy," I whispered. "Mama was too loud. I love you."
Jay held his cloth diaper up to me. His wobbly voice managed, "shoulder." I put the diaper on my shoulder and picked him up so he could rest his little head against me. We snuggled into the rocking chair. I rocked and sang. Soon he was asleep, but I continued to hold him, not wanting the moment to end, knowing my heavenly Father, my Abba, was with me and would guide me through the difficult, as well as joyous, days ahead.
Copyright © Candy Arrington 2013. Used by permission.
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Candy Arrington's publishing credits include The Lookout, Encounter, Focus on the Family, Clubhouse, The Upper Room, The Writer, and Writer's Digest. She is coauthor of Aftershock: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House Publishers). Candy and her husband, Jim, live in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she sings in her church choir, and enjoys meeting God for long walks.
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