On October 1st, 2013, my father lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. I held his hand as he took his last breath and left this world for another. I’ve always struggled with what I believe in, what my faith is and whether or not I believe in something higher than myself. It seems rather egotistical to think we’re the highest thing in the universe and I often teeter back and forth to find a balance. My brain pulls one way and my heart another.
I never had a “relationship” with religion and church as a child, so I never learned the basics when it came to God and all the stories in the bible. I was taught by my father to be a good person and do the right thing, but he was an atheist or agnostic, or better yet an agnotheist. He didn’t need a big church to tell him how to behave, he just treated those around him the way he would want to be treated. He was honest and kind, stern but gentle.
I like to think I inherited those things from him.
After my father passed, I had a hard time dealing with the loss. On the outside, to friends and family, I looked strong, but inside I was waging a war against myself and with God. I didn’t understand why someone who loved us so much would take the good people and leave the bad ones instead. To be honest, I still don’t, and no matter how many times my church going friends and family could explain it to me, it never makes sense.
It’s the same way I feel about kids with cancer and murderers who slip through the cracks.
In the early morning, right after my father passed, I walked outside for some fresh air. The sky was still dark, the sun not yet creeping up on the eastern horizon and the moon was out and the brightest I’ve ever remembered seeing it. It was a thin crescent moon, laying horizontally like a cheshire cat grin. It seems silly, but whatever bit of faith I still had left in me knew it was my dad, smiling down on me. He was letting me know he was OK. This was the first sign he sent me.
About two weeks after that, I was driving my car, headed west to pick up my step daughter from school. Abbey was in the backseat, she was newly 2 years old. I started playing “iPod Roulette” on my stereo. It was a game I often played any time I had questions about the universe. I would push “random”, ask a questions and the next song that played would be the answer. Sometimes it worked and some times it was insanely confusing, but it was still a way to pass the time on long drives.
I was feeling very lonesome and morose and I hit “random” and asked my dad to let me know he was OK. Anything, any sign, any nudge, just something to ease my pain a bit. I hit “next” and the song “Mr. Moonlight” by The Beatles came on my iPod. It was an insanely random song, one that hardly ever played out of the 5000+ songs on my iPod, but there it was, clear as day. He was with us on that drive.
It renewed my faith a little bit, brought a lot of tears to my eyes and a big smile.
My daughter at the time, being so young didn’t understand the concept of death and where we go after and I explained that in the afterlife you go to heaven. She asked where heaven was and I said it’s above us, high in the sky. She replied “Like the moon?” and again I felt my father guiding me in my parenting adventure as I smiled and replied, “Yes, like the moon.”
Now whenever we see the moon following us on car rides, or peeking out behind clouds during the day, or shining brightly, smiling down with a big cheshire cat grin, I know my dad is there. In some small way, he’s peeking in and checking on us. He’s letting us know he’s OK and we’ll be together again one day.
I might still not go to church, or understand why people are taken from us before they are ready, but my faith is getting stronger and I don’t feel so alone without my daddy. I know he’s there. I know he watches us and I can feel his influence in my life every single day.
And I am thankful.