We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Three Years

Armed with a pocket full of Kleenex, I walked up the hill to the Clarks Green Cemetery for the first time this spring. A delightful walk despite the traffic in the late afternoon. The stimulating fragrances of flowering trees, bushes, and lilacs surrounded me as I made my way up and down the hills between the markers, and as always, found myself stooping to read a few of the names and dates of those who have passed on.
I always save Barry's section until last. As the stone came into view, tears stung my eyes. There's something about that first look in the spring that floods my heart with the reality and finality of his death. I settled myself on the ground and cleaned the pine needles and grass clippings off the base. So much has happened in three years. As I wiped my eyes, I realized that I miss him in a different way than when crushing grief nearly swallowed me up and I wondered how I would go on without him. 

Back then I wished he could've helped Elisabeth with her college decisions. I wished he could've dialogued with all the girls and answered their questions. I wished he could've played his role as "Grandpa" to our grandsons, one of whom he never met. I wished he could've weighed in on so many decisions I had to make without him, decisions about the house, a car, our finances. He always seemed to know what to do.

Looking back, I see God's grace standing out bold on the calendar pages of the past 36 months. We made it . . . all this time. But that doesn't mean we didn't feel the ache in our hearts. And now I grieve for him in additional ways. I long for his comfortable companionship and the balance he brought to my life. I miss making his favorite dinner, hearing about his many ventures, and planning this year's garden together.  How often have I wanted to ask his thoughts about my writing and speaking? "Does this make sense? Is this topic relevant? Do these ideas sound okay? What's missing?" 

I feel for our girls . . . as each of them is in a different place now. They would benefit from his knowledge and wisdom - on education, relationships, gardening, parenting, and on and on. We often find ourselves saying, "What would Dad say?" It helps . . . a little.

Before I rose to walk home, I traced my finger over the words under his name: "Life-long Learner; Loved God and Others." Always for the other guy, that's just the kind of man he was! And somehow I gather up the courage to move ahead and "run with perseverance the race marked out for me," grateful for God's new measure of grace every single day.

I love you, Barry. We miss you.


  1. Oh, Sarah, you brought a flood of memories of these eleven years since my dad died. I felt as you did and do. The agony, the tears, the frustration and even a little anger.

    But now, I can finally look at his photo without breaking down, finally talk about him, hear people sing the hymns I loved hearing him sing. I too wish he were here to see his great-grandchildren. And our daughter who married in December wanted him to walk her partway down the aisle. But life goes on, and if I want those grandchildren to know their great-grandfather, it will have to be through our stories of him.

    Sometimes, the Holy Spirit comforts me with visions of Dad in heaven, the most recent of him strumming his guitar and worshipping Our Lord in song! This was amazing because Dad wasn't one to do that, preferring a quiet, non-demonstrative form of worship. And another time, the Lord brought a thought of my dad meeting Johnny Cash! In fact, I may write a story about that someday, "The Day My Dad Met Johnny Cash"!

    Thank you for sharing your heart. Blessings, Sarah!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Cathy. The passing of time helps, but once in a while I find tears dripping off my chin. Grateful for good memories . . . Blessings to you.

  2. Sara I am so sorry for your loss. I identify with it. Grace meets us at every moment.

  3. Sarah, what a beautiful post you wrote here - so heartfelt and honoring. Even though I only met Barry once, in my heart I share in missing him - for your sake. Grief is yet another life journey we all experience. So thankful to have a Lord who understands our heartache and carries us through to where we think of the ones we've lost with fewer tears and greater thanks.

    1. "Fewer tears and greater thanks." Thanks, Cheryl, for your good thoughts.