So, now I am. There are too many incidences that have occurred since my last posting to post here. As such, I'll try to remember a few. I think I'll start with some more recent things. Maybe I'll get to go backwards into this last week, or even further. Who knows. We'll see how far back I can go. Without making this post long enough to publish as a novella, that is.
Tonight we had dinner at Chris and Mendy's house with most of Alissa's family. Mendy's mom was there too. As an intro, Chris and Mendy are two great people who have been friends with Alissa's parents for a long time. Their children were roughly the same ages as Alissa and her siblings, so they all grew up knowing each other quite well. Chris and Mendy love to host dinners at their wonderful home. They have a very large dining room table that can seat well over a dozen. And they love to dabble in gourmet type cooking so meals are quite spectacular. They also like to put little cards under everyone's dinner plate, and sometime during the evening, everyone has to answer the question on the card. It's typically a very fun and engaging dinner.
Anyway - that's where we were. Randy (Alissa's dad, for those of you who don't remember...), was asked something along the lines of what he respects most about his dad. Randy answered the question, but while he was doing so, I couldn't help think about what I respected most about my dad. Randy stated he respected - among quite a few things - how his dad is a very engaging person, and is very comfortable making other people feel comfortable. My dad was very similar in that regards, so it was easy for me to relate to what Randy talked about.
I also thought about how over the years, I often asked myself "what did dad (and mom...) do to make all of us kids turn out to be at least half-way decent people?" I often didn't have an answer. Randy, in his response to the above-mentioned question, said that he found the older he got the more he realized how many things he respected about his father. Likewise, I have done the same in answering my ongoing question. In the last couple of years, a lot of those answers have come just by being a father myself.
That being said, with all that has happened with Anna, I have never missed my dad more. Or, I guess I should say I have never missed Pops more. That is, after all, what I called him most of the time. Pops. Such and endearing term. To me, "Pops" says so much more than "Dad." Anyone can be a dad, and any dad can be good or bad. But I have yet to meet someone who is called Pops that has been a bad dad. Therefore, Pops = good dad. Aaaaannnd - I get off on a another tangent. Where was I? Missing Pops.
Did I mention somewhere else on this blog about him passing away? Well, if I didn't, know that he did, about five or six years ago, after a bout with leukemia. While there have been lots of times over the years that I have missed him, I haven't missed him as acutely as I have since we found out that Anna had her heart defects. While he never lost his any of his own children, he lost a lot of siblings, and his mother and father. So he was no stranger to grief. And while none of his children ever had any major medical issues, he had a quiet and simple faith in God that always seemed to come out. And, he always seemed to know what to say. Plus, he gave good hugs. Nice, big, strong, hold-you-tight-for-just-the-right-amount-of-time hugs. Man o man, I miss those hugs.
Speaking of Dad's hugs, the day that Anna died, Alissa's parents, siblings (and spouses), and some others were there from her side of the family. My mom and Pete, my oldest brother, were there from my side, but since my other two brothers live in Idaho and my sister lives in Spokane, they weren't able to get over. Anyway (geez - enough sidetracks already!), in the moments after Anna passed, I don't really remember many specifics. I remember holding Anna's body, and I remember sobbing over it. I was told later that I wailed. I don't remember that, but it is certainly possible. Then, later as I went around giving and receiving hugs, Pete put his big, strong, arms around me and held me close, for just the right amount of time. In that moment, I felt as if my dad were hugging me through my brother's arms. I also knew that, at the same moment of my hug from Pete, my dad's arms were enfolding my little precious angel, Anna Joy. And he was welcoming her into heaven, telling her about all of the wonderful things that are there.
As I said in Anna's service, I am extremely jealous of my dad. He gets to be with Anna, and love on her like I would like to do. How I would love to be there too. I can't wait to get there. But apparently God still has something for me to do here. I'm not sure what, but I'm trying to figure it out as I go along. As the Apostle Paul says, "for to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." That verse has been with me for a long time, and I have tried to implement that thought into my life. Anna has given me a new perspective on that thought though, and one day maybe I'll write about it. I have meditated often on that passage since Anna passed away. There are lots of thoughts bouncing around in my head, and I haven't got a full grasp on them yet, so the writing will have to wait a bit.
Well, this post has already taken on epic proportions, so I guess just one moment will have to do for now. I will say, however, that if you want another good read (and cry), check out babyjacobrondeau.blogspot.com. Andy and Katy have an incredible story too. Andy's recent post is quite heartfelt, and while we have only met in person twice, I know that he and I would be good (if not great...) friends. This couple is just one of the countless stories of triumph in pain that are out there. Andy and Katy, if either of you get to a point where you can find a few minutes to read this post (okay ten or fifteen, since I'm too lengthy...) know that Alissa and I are praying for you too. You guys are incredible.
By the way, every day Alissa and I eagerly await our postman (actually, I think she's technically a postwoman, but I hope I'm being PC by saying postman - you know, lady actresses call themselves actors now, too, right? Aaaaannd, another sidetrack...), hoping to get yet another sympathy card. There was one day this week, that for the first time since Anna died we did not get a card. We were both crestfallen. But the next day we got a couple more, and haven't missed any since. Thank you to all of you who continue to support us, pray for us, and generally love on us. We love you all too.
Good night, maybe I'll write again soon.