mental wellness, Stigma

Ringing the Bell

brass bellFor many years I wished my dad got to ring the bell. You know, that bell at the hospital that patients get to ring when they’re finally cancer-free. I wished he could stand up tall, on his own, surrounded by smiles and laughter and pure joy. I wished he could ring that bell louder than it had ever been rung before. But that didn’t happen. He never got to ring it.

I saw a post on Facebook today about a friend’s uncle getting to ring the bell. Where I may have felt jaded and even jealous in the past, today I felt joy. This person I don’t even know made a complete stranger smile. And it’s because I realized something important: Daddy didn’t fail. Daddy didn’t lose. He won the ultimate prize. He doesn’t have cancer anymore. He isn’t hurting. He got to ring that bell. The ultimate bell. The bell of eternal life.

You see, this place isn’t permanent. We are all just passing through. There is something beyond comprehension that waits on the other side. Daddy believed it and so do I.

The day I found out that he wasn’t going to make it was the worst day I can ever remember having. Ever. I cried harder on that day than I had before and have since.

But the day he passed, at 10:03 AM, October 30, 2009, I felt the presence of God in a way I never had before. It hurt to lose my precious Daddy. The little girl inside of me lost her Superman. As imperfect as he was he was still my hero. I’ll never forget the warmth of his hand as I laid it beside him one last time.

It’s been 10 years since that day. It’s been 10 years since we’ve shared this Earth. TEN YEARS. But that pales in comparison to the time we’ll share eternally. Somehow life goes on, even when it feels like it shouldn’t. It’s taken years, and will continue to take years to find whatever “normal” is. “Normal” is always changing anyway. It’s not reliable. God is reliable. Jesus is reliable. His love is reliable.

So I hold onto my faith. It’s a step I have to take but cannot see past. It’s a corner I must turn when I don’t know what’s around the other side. That’s what true faith is. It’s holding onto hope; holding onto a promise. It is trusting. Yes, I still question my faith sometimes, but without those questions neither I nor my faith can grow.

God has yet to let me down. He makes me wait and he doesn’t always answer the way I want him to, but he always comes around. He is always making me new again… and again… and again.

Sometimes I think that when I’m having a moment where I miss my dad extra it’s because in that moment he’s missing me, too. I don’t know if that’s real, but I like to think it is.

A few weeks after he had passed I had a dream where I was talking to my dad. He was driving a car and I was in the passenger seat. I could see each detail on his face like he was right there in front of me. He wasn’t sick. He was the healthy man I think of when I remember my father. He told me he was OK and that one day I could come with him. It was a moment of peace in a time of grieving.

As long as I walk on this earth I will miss him more every single day. I will also be grateful for him and the time I got. 26 years. He wasn’t a perfect man, but I know I got the best parts of him and for that I am thankful. I still get sad and mad and confused, but when I miss him I stay very still and I can feel him surround me.

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Sometimes we mourn and sometimes we dance. It’s the ebb and flow of life. There are moments of grief and moments of joy. Today I am filled with the gratitude that came out of my grief. Today I am dancing.

Daddy, life is so weird without you, and I miss you, but I know you’re OK and that one day I can come with you. Until that day, I miss you forever. Love Always, Sarita

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