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  • Will Chenault

Happy Birthday Dad

Today would have been my father’s 70th birthday.  Nearly 3 years have passed since he made his transition to new life. While memories of my father are never far from thought, these weeks and month I have experienced a newer sense of loss. I remember shortly after my dad died I had an overwhelming flood of emotion centered on this thought, “I will never get to speak to him again this side of eternity… I will never hear his voice, never get to call him on my ride to work, or never share with him a funny story from the day”  While the sharpness of this grief has dulled, the memory of his being is always just within reach. 

I find that there a very few days that pass that I don't reflexively think “Let me call dad…”  almost like muscle memory that you never lose, or the sensation of a phantom limb for an amputee.  I’m told that this will never go away.  

Shortly after dad passed I read a small but helpful book titled “Lament for a Son” by Nicholas Wolterstorff. Wolterstorff writes his memoir recanting his experience of grief after tragically loosing his young son in a mountain climbing accident.  One quote captured me. He writes,

"There’s a hole in the world now… A center, like no other, of memory and hope and knowledge and affection which once inhabited this earth is gone.  Only a gap remains.  A perspective in this world unique to this world which once moved about has been rubbed out… There’s nobody who saw just what he saw, knows what he knows, remembers what he remembers, loves what he loved… Question I have can never now get answers.  The world is emptier.” 

Nearly three years after my father’s death, life has moved on.  My family has gotten older, and we have experienced new adventures and yet the hole remains.  This hole that is left by my father’s earthly absence is no longer a painful reality, but the hole remains nonetheless.   

Now is the felt experience of waiting for the day of reuniting.  In the meantime, I will continue to live the richness and goodness of all that life has to offer while almost simultaneously acknowledging that the world is an emptier place without my father.  

Happy Birthday Dad! I love you 

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