This was a hard week for a friend of mine and because we are friends…a hard week for me as well.
My friend lost her beloved daddy this week after a brief but aggressive bout with an illness. She was heartbroken and stunned. Heartbroken at the loss and stunned at the speed with which this all happened. I was left breathless as I watched how quickly this whole series of events unfolded. I hurt for my friend, who lives in another town about a day’s journey from her family. I felt her pained heartbeats as she worried, paced, prayed, cried, feared the worst and hoped for the best. She barely got the chance to get home and see her dad before he was gone. Throughout the weeks that became this ordeal, she was overflowing with words of love, praise, admiration, and respect for the man her dad is and was. My favorite story was how he would come home from working third shift at the GM plant here in my hometown and stay up until his little girls were off to school just so he could have a few minutes with them before their day began.
That…is a dad.
The past few weeks have been hard to watch from a distance because I knew my friend was hurting and I wanted to offer comfort. It was painful also because I know that I will likely be repeating her situation one day myself. I have essentially accepted the fact that I likely won’t ever get the straight answer on my origins and I will one day get a phone call informing me that my father is gone. I won’t have any wonderful memories as my friend Vicky did, but I will have the same pain. The same hole will open up in my heart, or perhaps in my case it will open further. The hole is already there. I will only have more unanswered questions and more of the unfulfilled longing to know who my dad is and what he is like and hear him tell me he thinks I did okay.
Vicky reminded me, these past few weeks, of how important my job is. How many incredible memories I can make that don’t cost a dime and that have lifelong impact. In this case impact that extends beyond my own child and into the lives of those who will hear the tale second hand one day. Hopefully they will be inspired to be the man I was some day just as I am insured to try to be a little like Vicky’s dad for my little girl. It’s why I won’t quit in the face of seemingly never-ending resistance. It’s why I stay where I am instead of moving to where I wish I was. One day I will leave behind a legacy for my daughter and more than any money or possessions I might give her…I want her to speak of me the way Vicky speaks of her dad. I want the one and only regret to be the shortness of life not the quality of the life I lived in front of her. I want her children to know their granddad loved them and her husband to make a quiet decision to be a daddy like I was. (someday…as of now boys aren’t even on the radar…much to my delight)
I was thinking of another friend of mine in Nashville, who has to fight hell and high water just for a day with his little boy. I hope he gets to read this and I hope it strengthens him to continue on despite the huge emotional toll it takes to have your heart ripped out weekly and to never have the chance to even let a scar grow over the wound. Hang in there my friend. There is eternal value in your persistence. That goes for all you dads. It’s the little things that our children will remember when we are gone. Things like saying “Good Morning baby”, and having breakfast with them and looking at them with love, through weary eyes.
Well done Mr. Murray, while we never met, you reminded me of something important and it came at the exact perfect time. Take your rest good and faithful servant.