This is something that I was randomly going over in my head the other day:
My dad’s story is told as I remember it, but his death was fast, unexpected, and very painful. The press haunted my family and me with their constant stories, rumors, and pictures. They often twisted the story of my dad’s death. They never actually got it quite right, I don’t think.
The press always tells us different stories. Some say my dad suffered. Others saying he didn’t. But no matter what the press says, I will keep what I believe in my heart. I believe that my dad didn’t suffer and that he didn’t see the power behind the blow of His fists coming at him. I continually tell myself that the press is wrong when they disagree with that, and I hope, deep down inside, that I’m right and that the press is wrong. I don’t want to think about how my dad’s last moments could have been filled with pain and worry, and I don’t want to think about how they could have been filled with sadness. I try to think of my dad as being happy, having no worries on his mind, feeling no pain, and feeling no regrets in his last few moments. I guess I will never know for sure what was going through his head in those last moments. All I can do, now, is hope for the best, I guess.
The days before my dad’s funeral were really difficult for me. I put together a slide show filled with pictures of my dad, I tried to talk about my feelings to some of my closest friends, and I attempted to keep my broken self from crying. I felt like everything was being thrown onto my small, fragile shoulders and I felt like I was about to collapse, dropping everything from on top of my shoulders, because of the weight of all the new responsibilities that I wasn’t even close to being ready for.
The funeral came sooner than I wanted it to. It was on a Thursday night and the weather was terrible. It was snowy and a little bit icy. But despite the weather, over three hundred people came to pay their respects, to support my family, to support me, and to remember my daddy.
At the visitation, I got plenty of hugs from people I knew, and just as many from people I didn’t. They introduced themselves as “friends of my dad,” but they didn’t tell me their names. People I hadn’t seen in years came out in the bad weather to show their support.
At exactly 6:00pm, I grabbed my flute, walked into the sanctuary with my family, and stood before the one hundred people who had stayed to watch the funeral and to say goodbye to my loving daddy. I looked at my accompanist, smiled a weak little smile, and turned back to the music before me. I took in a deep breath, hands shaking, and started playing. With the last note hanging in mid-air, I half-walked, half-ran back to where my family was sitting and I took my seat in the uncomfortable pew.
Once I finally sat down, the pastor started speaking about what an amazing person my dad was, about how he helped everyone in their times of need, and how he had continued to live his life for me and only for me.
Before the funeral, I had also picked out three songs that I wanted to be played at my dad’s funeral. The first one was “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me, followed by “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill, and then finally, “You Can Let Go” by Crystal Shawanda. These songs played at different times throughout the service. Our pastor would talk for a while, a song would play, and then he would talk again, and so on and so forth. During each song, I could hear people crying, even over my own, hurtful sobs.
My dad was only fifty years old. He still had many years ahead of him to do everything that he wanted to do. But because of him, though, this time was pulled to a complete stop.
Something that my uncle said during the service actually made everyone laugh. It struck me that laughter dispersed a little bit of the heavy sadness that everyone could feel in the air. My uncle told everyone about how my dad made his kids a swing set, built some stairs, and painted the kids’ rooms when he was at their house in San Francisco. He told everyone that he could picture my daddy standing with our Christ and Savior at the gates of heaven, and Christ asking my dad to help him fix a door or go build something for him. We all laughed at that, because we could almost picture it happening right above us as my uncle was telling everyone the story.
I made a few new friends through all of this hurt, actually. A woman named Anne contacted me through Facebook and told me about how when she was little, my dad played basketball at Coe. She told me about how she was always excited to see my dad play, and that she was even more excited when she got an autograph from him. It made me smile as I read this little note, because I know that my dad has always had a big heart, and he really loved making people happy, even if he didn’t know them.
It really meant a lot to me to get messages from Anne because it showed me that more people than I know care about me and want to help me get through this mess. It showed me that the world that holds the murderer that killed my dad can also hold some of the best people.
People have asked me a lot of questions trying to figure out what I’m feeling. Honestly though, I don’t know what I’m thinking about. All I know for sure is that I’m mad at the man that killed my dad; I might even hate him. I really don’t understand how a man could take the life of another so carelessly. Without thinking twice and without thinking of me and of my dad’s friends and family that love him.
People have also asked me a lot of questions about God and what I think He did in this situation. My answer to that, honestly, is that I don’t know. I don’t know what I believe anymore. Before all of this happened, I threw everything at God. I believed He could make things happen, or make things not happen. I believed that He was more than just a figment of my imagination, more than just something to put my faith into. I believed that He had our lives planned out for us before we were even born; I believed that He loved each and every one of us and I believed that He wanted to protect us. But now, I’m beginning doubt all of that. I don’t know what He really means to me anymore, I don’t know why this happened, and I don’t know why He decided to let my dad die this way. I have so many questions that just can’t seem to be answered. Honestly, I wish that God could just drop down from this so-called Heaven above us and tell me what He was thinking when He let all of this happen. But He can’t. I know that. But sometimes, I just wish He could – to clear up all this confusion, to dull this pain that will never go away.