October 15 will mark three years since my Dad lost his battle to mesothelioma but won his wings in Heaven. Three years. Three years. I have to keep repeating it to myself to even make it seem true. This time of year is always very difficult for me. As the dreaded anniversary date draws closer, I always think to myself, “Three years ago, this was Dad’s last Sunday”, “Three years ago, this was Dad’s last Monday.” I go on and on, torturing myself, really. It’s so hard to think that no one had any idea that they would be his lasts. What would we have done differently if we had known?
Then, I turn my thoughts. I begin to think about the other kinds of “lasts” for my Dad, the ones that really count.
These “lasts” are the things that he left behind that will always endure. His effect on people will always last. His memory will last. His impact on my life will last. His stunning example of how to live a life full of grace in the face of the toughest adversity… will last.
Sure, I still think about the last time I saw Dad, the last time I spoke to him. These things will be forever etched in my mind, yes, they will last. But thinking about these other lasting legacies that he left for me bring me such great comfort.
Another way to look at his lasts here on earth is to think about the firsts. His last seconds here led to his first in Heaven. How can that be a sad thing? For us who remain, we don’t get to experience what he did. He was instantly relieved of his pain, his worry, and his illness. Our first seconds without him were unconceivably different from what was happening to him. During our greatest shock and suffering, Dad was going through his greatest joy.
As much as I feel selfish for wanting him back, how can I not? But realistically, I would never want to take that away from him for my own benefit, even though I miss him desperately.
These past three years have been full of a gamut of emotions running wildly most of the time. I find comfort in thinking about all of the good times that I was able to share with my amazing father; remembering him is a beautiful tribute. This is how my Dad will last.