Editors’ note: Many of us find that the anniversary of a loved one’s death date brings with it unexpected waves of sorrow. Some cultures make a point of including ritual around those anniversary dates. Others find ways as individuals or within families to mark the passage of time and honor the memory of their loved one. Still others may not mark the date, but find themselves experiencing emotion and/or memory around a significant birthdate, anniversary, death anniversary, or holiday like Mother’s/Father’s Day. We’d welcome your accounts of how you’ve observed a significant date marker, or details of particular memory rituals or prayers you may observe. (Click here to submit your story.)
To get the conversation on this topic going at ThePerennialGen.com, we’re sharing the following bit of free verse from Carol Longenecker Hiestand as she reflected, remembered, and connected with the emotions she was feeling on the third anniversary of her father’s passing.
* * * * * * *
I miss my Dad’s presence in my life
that stage of life that wasn’t shouting
“You are losing him”
when he was timeless, ageless.
I didn’t have to think of losing him
because he would always be
Then came the inexorable march to
decline and I started to hope it might happen
soon because I knew it couldn’t get any better.
And even he wanted to
Next, the immediate relief when it was over
a curious blend of grief and gladness;
with more gladness than
Because I knew the difficult
end-of-life struggle for him, for me.
And the need to be careful who I talk to
about the struggle, because others might think I
didn’t want to take care of him
anymore, and I knew I
I know my dad is safely
After a while, I began to wonder about my own
When I do, I fear for my children
going through the same process
with me if I live a long life
leading to my gradual
I don’t want this for them,
so I pray for them, knowing
they will travel their own
journey with me, trusting Jesus
to be present with them as he was
with me when my father
I learn and believe
these passages are part of the life we live
our souls wrapped in this flesh.
I find comfort in
the psalmist’s words:
“When they arrive at the gates of death,
God welcomes those who
love him.” (Psalm 116:5 MSG)
Carol Longenecker Hiestand writes when inspired about things that often go unnoticed, and sees herself as a storyteller. She’s a wife, mom, grandmother, and friend living right in the middle of the second half of life. She’s passionate about writing to and for her grandchildren about her life, passing on the things she’s learned. You’ll often find her immersed in making photo books for our family, working to keep her scattered family connected. She’s a lover of all shades of purple and rose. Lilacs, waterfalls, any body of water, porch swings and Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi (when she can find it!) make her happy.
Photo by Esther Wiegardt on Unsplash
very good, thoughts and emotions so well expressed, ones I can relate to well, but don’t find expression for them as you do, so thanks for sharing!!
thanks, Cousin, I know you do. After my brother died, I expected losing my parents would feel the same. There was grief. It was different.
Yes, I think of Brad a lot and wonder if I should visit his gravesite or celebrate his birthday on July 7 or do something special on the day of his home going. For the first few years following his death, I had a hard time. People said I was strong. But I felt weak. Brianna was just an infant when her daddy passed on. At his request, I lived with Memaw and Papaw. I saw them yesterday and realized it has been 23 years since Brad Busby joined those who have gone home before us. Can’t wait to have “that reunion in the sky”!
You get to do what works best for you. There are no “shoulds” here”. People often see us as strong when we’re dying inside. You’’ve probably seen on my blog how I “honor their both days. I can share more if you’d like. More importantly is considering what you need. Each person will need different things.
So glad to read this….. much GRACE and truth wrapped in beautiful words.