Each year, the change from summer to fall brings excitement, beauty, and relief from the hot Alabama heat. Enthrallment sets in as those first few nippy, crisp mornings slowly turn into cool afternoons and evenings. And, of course, fall brings Alabama football. But, for me and my family, fall also brings memories of my dad and those last weeks and days he was alive.
Each August, I start to reminisce. The last time I saw my dad as a healthy, happy person was my 21st birthday. I had spent a few days with my parents at home before heading back to Montevallo for my birthday party (which they so happily attended!). Looking back, I'm so thankful I spent that time with them.
What I didn't know then was that just a few weeks after my 21st birthday, my whole world would change. I got a phone call on the morning of Tuesday the 19th that Dad was being taken to the E.R. by ambulance. And just past midnight on Thursday the 21st, my dad was gone forever. Though the "anniversary" is still a few weeks away, my heart can't help but begin to remember those last days.
To say I miss my dad is really an understatement. Each time I make a good grade or have a funny story to share, I think about what my dad would say. And when I'm stressed or upset, I can hear my dad calmly telling me that it's all going to be okay. The year ahead is one full of change, and I wonder how my dad would react if he were here. I know he would be so, so, so very proud to see me wearing a cap and gown and receiving my degree, despite the fact that he told me never to go into teaching (because the pay sucks!!). And I can only imagine how delighted he would have been to walk me down the aisle and give me away to a man who, in so many ways, really is just like my dad. :)
Despite the sadness and harsh reality of my dad's death, I have to be sure to say over and over again that God truly has worked all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28). What, at first, seemed like a tragedy has really become God's greatest work in my life. I remember promising myself to the Lord the night my dad died and, though I've taken some twists and turns, God has been faithful to uphold His end of the promise. I trusted myself to the Lord and followed His lead through the loss, mourning, grief, and into a new life. What was meant for evil has truly been used for good (Gen. 50:20). And the biggest lesson of all that I have learned is that time does not heal. Only God heals. And I am so glad that I serve a God who is always, always faithful.