Please know that I have been mulling over what to say for weeks. I don't know the best way. I don't know what's socially acceptable or how much to reveal. I don't know how to do any of this.
Therefore, while running the risk of having a "stigma" placed upon me...
...here is my attempt at trying.
I didn't think it was some grand feat to speak at my dad's funeral. To me, it was a rite of passage, a way to grieve, a form of closure. However, the reactions of surprise and "you're so brave" that I received told me I was doing something hard, something trying, something big.
And I did it.
The last time I talked to my dad was at his funeral.
Somehow through all of this, I was able to come up with some of the better memories and moments to relate to the crowd. Memories of traipsing around Europe together; being allowed to walk to school on my own for the first time, only to find him following behind me in his car to make sure I was safe; putting me through college for the most part. Things like that. It obviously wasn't the time to rehash all of the memories filled with pain, with abuse, with neglect, with crying. Not the time.
Not to mention I've been painstakingly hiking down the path of forgiving him for years and years. No need to take a detour now. Even though he'd thrown quite the roadblock in my way when he decided to take his own life.
I don't mention that here in the story to get your pity, bring about the shock factor or boo hoo my way through this account. It simply (and not so simply) is what it is. And I'm dealing. One day at a time.
Back to the funeral.
After I choked out some fond memories with my dad, I read the verse of scripture that literally dragged me out of bed each day for weeks, that eased my raging mind, that kept the nightmares and recreations of the scene out of my head, that helped me love my family and support them when I was falling down inside, that carried me through surreal experiences such as cleaning out my dad's home, planning my father's funeral, having to move my lips and pronounce each syllable in the word "suicide" over and over and over to quizzical folks. This verse saved my life and helped me put to rest another:
"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart,
Lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways, acknowledge Him,
and He will make straight your paths."
How I have clung to this every waking moment. How I have leaned on my God when the only other option was falling flat on my face. How I have been forced to trust Him when nothing makes sense. How I am daily accepting His guidance down this very foreign and unsettling path.
And, like the verse says, we'll never fully understand why this happened. I mean, it was no secret that my dad suffered mental instability his entire life, even as a child. He displayed full-on signs that he needed help, whether medicinally or through counsel, but he took neither. I am now a firm believer in admitting when you need outside help--it doesn't make you weak or any less of a person.
But, you know, the one major thing that my dad needed and wouldn't accept was Jesus Christ. I'm not going to minimize his need for medicine, but I am going to say that he was a miserable man most of his life because of Who he was missing. At one point, he professed belief, but that was many many many years before his life spun out of control.
You and I are not put here to judge his eternity. Who am I to say what is in another's heart?
But I won't lie to you--I worry.
Again, back to the funeral.
I finished up my little speech with a list of the best gifts my dad ever gave me and my younger sister. He was a good gift-giver, for sure. In that list were New Kids on the Block concert tickets when I was 10ish, the first Nintendo (the old-school one), first cars, college education, etc.
But of all the gifts he gave me, the best was my sister. He gave me that. He gave me a sister with whom I'm closer than I could ever imagine. He gave me a counterpart that understands almost EXACTLY how I feel going through this mess, which is more life-saving than I can express. He gave me my best friend.
And for that, I'm ever thankful to him.
Yes, my dad lived a sad life and finished on a sad note.
But I can't dwell there. I can't.
My Holy Savior and Redeemer and Protector and Father has more for me...
...and for you.
Please let me say that I am using this blog post to sort of "write it out," to get some of this out of my system. If it bothers you or makes you uncomfortable to read about this, please know I do not blame you. I can't promise when I will feel like writing about this again or about anything else for that matter, but know that I'm still here reading about your lives and enjoying every story and picture. Also, I feel like I can't post anything silly or funny or mundane due to what I've just experienced for fear that some would assume I'm "over" it, that I'm being disrespectful to the situation, that I'm not allowed to move past it. I don't know what I'm saying here, but it is a weird thing to laugh and joke and be happy when sad things are around you, you know?
Anyway, thanks for reading. And thank you for your prayers of support. They are truly felt.