Yesterday marked seven years since I've seen my dad. It seems a long time to go without hugging him, laughing with/at him, hearing him whistle, seeing him chewing on a toothpick, talking to him about...well, everything. Seven years is a long time. It seems even longer when I think of how my life has changed in seven years: I've seen my need for Christ and turned to Him in love through His grace and mercy; I've gone from desperately longing for a baby to having 4 wild children who I adore and who drive me nuts; I've watched my little sisters grow up; Trey went from being around always to working offshore in Mexico and only being here less than half our life; I've learned how to be alone; I've found out what it is to grieve. My life is richer in many ways now than seven years ago - I know what it is to walk with Christ (though stumblingly). But there's this hollow place in my life where Daddy fit in that's just...well, empty. There's the what-would-have-been place of where Papa would have been for my kids that's empty; and I'm tempted for a moment to focus on the emptiness. But then I remember: seven years is just a blip on the radar of Eternal Reality. This life, this grief, this joy, this loneliness, this chaos, this emptiness and fullness is, as C.S. Lewis said, "merely the cover and title page" - the Real Story has not yet begun for me, but it has for Daddy. He is living in the True Reality - he knows now what true joy everlasting is! He sits at Christ's feet and lives in the Presence of the Almighty Maker of Heaven and Earth!
Seven years is a long time; and it's just a blink. It's a reminder that what we have here is good and sweet and full in so many ways BECAUSE of what comes after - this shadow of the True is to be lived and enjoyed, but not to be our focus. Yes, I'm even selfish enough to wish for small moments that he was here again. But not really. Not for long. Not when I remember Reality. Daddy is not "lost" or even "dead". I know right where he is, and he is more alive than I am right now. He is living the Real Life, and I'm only in the Shadowland. So I miss him, oh yes, I miss him more than I can even say, but I rejoice in his Life Everlasting. I'm thankful that he's in Heaven and that someday I KNOW I will see him again, and that when I do I will love him perfectly and we will eternally enjoy our Heavenly Father together, and then seven years will be nothing.