I stood in the doorway leading out into our garage and stared at a strange sight. My 18 year-old-eyes could not believe what they saw, my Dad, slumped over the steering wheel of his car. Going into shock, my mind was mostly numb, with strange thoughts like: Did my parents have a fight? But how would that explain my father's body slumped over, unconscious in the car? I could not figure out what my eyes were seeing. Nothing was making any sense. Yet, God knew I needed more time to absorb what had really happened.
It was Friday, three weeks before I was to leave for college, and a family whose kids I loved to babysit for were supposed to be taking me on a special thank you picnic. Just the day before I had had this passing thought, “Katherine, you will never go on that picnic!” In retrospect, I believe that thought was God's Holy Spirit very gently starting to prepare me for the terrifying events that were to come my way. I never did go on that picnic, for that was the day that my world crumbled--one brick at a time.
I don't know how or when in all of the commotion that I first heard or thought about the word suicide concerning my father's death. Yet, almost forty years later, whenever I hear about this gut-wrenching act, I cringe, praying inwardly for the family and friends involved. These prayers can last for days.
The day after loosing my father, I was sitting in my bedroom listening to the same melancholy record over and over again. I was crying so hard, the sobs began to hurt my chest. Then my mother walked in. I was startled to see her because I knew she had so many details to plan for the up-coming memorial service, as well as dealing with her own anguish. It turned out that in her graciousness, she saw my pent-up pain and had wanted to comfort me in some small way.
She held in her hand something so tiny that I had to squint through my tears to see; the last gift I had given to my dad. It was a small, silver filigree tie clasp; this one had little pinstripes etched into the silver, making it stand out from the rest. I remembered with bittersweet pain, the joy I had in picking it out for him, on what was to be his last Father's Day. My mom's words broke into my reverie. "Honey, would you like to have your dad wear this for his burial?"
All I could think of was this had been a gift to my dad, how could I take it back? I also wanted there to be some part of me to remain with him… I nodded, “Yes, thank you for thinking of me."
She hugged me and quietly left the room. I was alone with my thoughts and tears once again.
I often wish I had made a different choice that day. I know it is only a material thing. Yet, sometimes, I agonize and wish it could be in a special drawer so I could finger the filigree clasp in my hands, like I did that day when my mother came into my room oh so long ago.
Whenever I feel that way, I hear the Lord say to me,
"I want you to have the memory of selecting the tie clasp for your dad. Yet, having it to touch and see would have been too difficult for you. It was best for it to be buried, both then and now."
Jeremiah 29:11-13 speaks to my heart. The Lord wants me to know that He has a bright future for me if I come to Him and seek Him with my whole heart. He also tells me in this passage that He will always listen to me when I come to Him and pray.This comforts my wounded soul.
No matter how dark my past has been, I have a promised-Spirit-led future if I trust my God. I can go to sleep at night and be secure in Him. Our God is the One who ties all things together. These things will come full circle to His glory when we allow Him to hold our memories, as the clasp holds the tie.
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