We are all just one call or text away from finding ourselves experiencing suffering, followed by doubt. We are all just one call or text away from getting news that will change our lives. For example, finding out we have cancer, someone we love has a terrible illness, a friend was involved in a car accident, betrayal by someone we trusted, or the loss of a loved one.
You feel the wind has been taken out of your sail. A feeling in the pit of your stomach and for a while, you feel afraid.
I was at my daughter’s 3rdgrade basketball game last night when my oldest daughter leaned over and said, “Mom, Papa Rick sent me a text for you to call him.” This is no surprise because anyone who knows me knows I am not very good about keeping my phone next to me, so missed calls and texts are a bit of a norm for me. When she said this, I knew deep in my core that the call I was getting ready to make to my dad would make me feel a sense of loss in some way. As I made my way over to the side of this loud and crowded gym, I called my dad. He let me know my Uncle Dave, had died.
It’s never easy to lose a loved one. There is a loved one that has now passed that was a part of your life and you feel a hole in your heart. It’s that disappointment, defeat, and despair that I won’t see him again until I am called home.
After pondering this revelation, my “go to” bible verse thankfully came to rescue me.
Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious. I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious hand.
It has been a bible verse I have found peace in as I have navigated my way through my own sufferings. It reminds me to completely SURRENDER to God. It gives me hope, which gives me strength, and leads to acceptance.
I want you to know I have incredible and beautiful memories of Uncle Dave. He didn’t have much of a filter on him, so at times, I felt I needed to explain things in a PG version to my children after he shared a story or joke with them. As they have gotten older now, his stories bring laughter; it was part of who he was. He had a gentle heart and would give the shirt off his back to anyone who needed it. He loved helping others, he moved me several times in college, fixed multiple cars for my family members, loved sharing jokes, stories, and his wisdom on the practical do’s and don’ts of life.
He and my dad used to take us trick or treating when we were young. They told us that they had to try at least one type of each of our mini candy bars because they wanted to make sure they were safe…of course, we believed them and never questioned it.
I can remember him teaching me how to drive a stick shift car when home from college over spring break because I was looking at buying a car and the stick shifts were cheaper. After we were done practicing, he said to me, “you know what, Angela, it might be better if you stick with an automatic. Sometimes saving money isn’t worth the gamble.” Needless to say, I knew he didn’t think I got the hang of it and probably best to stick with what I know.
I remember the time when I was spending the night with my cousins at their house and Uncle Dave had to pick up a snake that was in their living room 5 feet from where I was playing a game. Not even the dog did anything about the snake, but Uncle Dave went over, picked it up like it was no big deal, and tossed it back outside. They lived on a farm, and it always took me a while to fall a sleep when I was over there.
He seemed scared of nothing and even though he was a bigger guy he was like a teddy bear inside. I loved his big hugs! He was sweet, patient, and would listen if you took the time to tell him what was going on in your life. Sometimes, there would be silence as he thought through what to say, but it was always followed with practical advice. He changed tires for me, picked me up from a party I wasn’t comfortable at in high school, trusted me, and loved me.
He had friends no matter where he went and was a risk taker. I can remember when I was little… being the first born, total type A personality, and rule follower, I always thought of the consequences before I might try anything out of my comfort zone. My Uncle Dave had a motorcycle and he said he was going to take me for a ride on it. I can tell you with complete certainty I was scared to death as I was climbing on this motorcycle. He was explaining to me to be careful not to touch certain parts because they were hot and could burn me!
What! Burn me! I know I was thinking to myself, your telling me to be careful…how about you be careful and just get me home alive!
However, I did it, I trusted him! He put a helmet on my head, I popped up there and he took me for a ride on his motorcycle, and I felt free. The breeze and the adrenaline felt good, and I was doing something totally out of my character.
He could build anything, fix anything, and was a hard worker! He didn’t need some executive job, he found his comfort in manual labor and time spent with his friends and family. He loved cars and always has owned Fords. He never missed anything I was in and even took time to watch my dance recitals and music programs when I was younger. My heart feels peace and joy as I celebrate the gift of Uncle Dave.
I could go on, but the point I am trying to make is it is never easy to lose anyone, but we are all just one call away from hearing the news that can alter our lives. Focusing on the comfort of eternal life gives me peace that I will see Uncle Dave again.
He was called home last night and I believe there is no shame in dying. I will be heading back to Iowa for his Celebration of Life. I felt called to write a post about my Uncle Dave, whom I am so thankful I had in my life and my children’s lives.
These memories, and many more, will help me grieve in the days ahead. I also have faith and know I will see Uncle Dave again when I am called home; he will be greeting me with his usual big bear hugs, and I will have a smile on my face.
I leave you with this quote from St. Francis de Sales. It was framed and given to me by a dear friend after I was diagnosed with cancer. It sits in my living room and always brings me peace.
“The same Eternal Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day of your life. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then.”
-St. Francis de Sales