My dad died when I was seven years old. Never in my life have I felt as devastated and confused as I did at that time.
We were a devout Catholic family. I went to a Catholic school. I said the prayers. I owned the rosary. I wore the plaid jumper. I believed. I believed. I believed!
But when Dad died I wanted to know why. I wanted mercy and grace and miracles and prayers answered. I wanted him back. Oh! How I wanted him back. My teachers were not prepared for my questions. Nobody knew the answers. Nobody ever knows why.
I felt the foundation of my faith shift beneath me. God wasn’t listening. God didn’t answer prayers. God took my Dad.
I would tell God I hated him…whisper it in angry, tear filled prayers. I would beg him to help me. Beg him to bring my Dad back. Beg him to put my family back together again and the smile back on my Mom’s face. Surely He who moves mountains is capable of such doings. I prayed vigorously for the power to fly so that I might go to meet him at the gates of Heaven and be with him again.
I wanted to die. I prayed that God would take me too, so that I could be happy again with my Dad.
And then I started to write. My teacher would give topics or questions and we would write our own little stories on these giant pieces of lined paper. I think that’s when the big people started to realize their was something in that little head of mine. I would play and talk and look like any other seven year old, but I would come home with these heart breaking stories of loss and yearning for my Dad. My Mom kept a lot of them and I thought I had them all.
The other night a couple of my sisters and I were at my Moms when she asked us to go through some trunks that held the last of Dad’s belongings. We’d been reluctant to go through that stuff for years, but my Mom insisted she needed to clean out the storage room and it. was. time.
I did really good. No tears. I couldn’t even remember where most of the stuff had come from. There were a few shirts that were special to me…some funny things he had written as a kid…his yearbooks….some pictures….I was managing just fine until I saw that familiar lined paper folded in the corner of the trunk. I snatched it up and instantly recognized my seven year old handwriting.
It was a story of mine I hadn’t seen yet and whatever walls I had built up in order to survive that evening were totally obliterated after reading it:
“What I would give Jesus if I were alive. I would give him my Teddy bear and if it was too much I would give him a bunny. I would give him a stuffed bear because I Love him of course. I would give him lots of stuff and when he grew up and my Dad Died I’d tell him to go up in heven and get my Dad down for me so I could say good by.”
(Click on the pictures to enlarge)
A tear jerker, right!?! Just think about what my poor Mom must have felt every time I brought one of those home to her!! Talk about twisting the knife.
I think it’s interesting that I talk about giving Jesus stuffed animals…I must have been thinking of Him as Baby Jesus…the tiny infant…because then I talk about Him growing up. Maybe the prompt was “What would you give Jesus if you were alive when he was born”, that would explain why I talk about Him like He’s a baby.
I like how I seem to think that Baby Jesus grows up and becomes God. I knew a baby was not going to be powerful enough to help me with my Dad. And I knew that when my Dad died it was God who was in charge…not Baby Jesus. And in just four (run on) sentences I was able to give Jesus something (as the assignment required) and then turn the subject back to my Dad and how I wanted to see him again.
Here you go Jesus…you can have my teddy bear…now aboooouuuutt me.
And isn’t that the way it always is? We just want one more minute. One more hug. One more chance to say good bye. Even at seven years old. Just one more.
Click here to read a poem I wrote about my Dad for Father’s Day this year.
Click here to read a poem I wrote about my Dad when I was in high school.
Click here to read about a time when I first realized how sick my Dad was.