I feel as though I’ve had quite a few “heavy” posts lately, and I don’t mean to dwell on sadness. But today, there’s sadness that can’t be ignored.
For as long as I live, no matter where life takes me, I will never forget the meaning of this date. In the future, it could mark many things—a wedding anniversary (for two friends of ours who are tying the knot today), a birthday, and who knows what else. But it will always, no matter what, be the day we lost Sean’s dad.
Not long after he died I set out to write the story of those two days, if for nothing else but to remember the 24-hours that changed our lives forever (as though I could actually ever forget them). I’m not sure I’m ready to share that story—let alone read it again myself—but it’s a small reminder of the days as I lived them.
I can’t tell the story through Sean’s eyes, and not through his brothers’ or his mom’s either. I can’t for a second imagine what those days were like for them, nor can I pretend that there are any words in my vocabulary that would bring justice to the sheer devastation, pain, shock, and disbelief that those days brought upon their family.
But I can recall what it was like for me. And I promise you it was among the very worst days of my life.
As soon as I started dating Sean I was welcomed into his family as though I was one of their own, and I’ve always been honored to be a part of it. So from the minute I received the frightening call from Sean announcing that his dad was being taken to the hospital, to the moment I walked out of the hospital and into the sunlight for the first time 24 hours later, I was dizzied by the tragedy happening around us.
I had witnessed life change before my eyes, crying and screaming and getting physically ill at the thought of it. I had watched God take from us one of the most incredible people we’ve ever known. I had said goodbye. What’s worse, I had watched Sean, his brothers, and his mom say goodbye to their patriarch, their rock, and their best friend.
I sometimes forget what life was like before that day. It may sound a bit overdramatic, but when someone so close to you dies so suddenly, it’s blindsiding. So as we move forward (or at least attempt to, because there are certainly days where it feels as though that’s the last direction we’re heading), we search for the ability to cope in our own ways and to remember this man who was special to so many people.
Because I only knew him for the four years Sean and I had been dating at the time, I love hearing stories of the husband, father, and friend he was to so many people in his 48 years of life. From what I can tell—from my own experiences and the genuine love and affection everyone felt for him—he was one of a kind. He was a gifted architect (and as his youngest son so eloquently put it—a true artist in this capacity). Someone who reveled in helping others and getting involved, whether by playing with all the neighborhood children, serving on committees at church and school, or coaching sports teams. A loyal friend who could often be found on a golf course or at a social event with his closest friends and co-workers. And of course a family man who deeply loved his wife and children and worked hard to provide for them, care for them, and support their successes.
He was all of this—but so much more, too. There simply aren’t enough words to do him justice.
So while we probably can’t help but think of the darkness of this day 2 years ago, we can also use this day to remember him. We will cry. We will be sad. But we’ll also smile as we think of his humor, his smile, and his simple presence, all things we would give our left arm to have back again. More than anything, today my heart is with those who loved him most.