Every time I visit mom I look for dad. I know he isn’t there, but I can’t help it, I look for him everywhere.
I used to find him in his empty chair because no one else sat in it. Other people sit in his chair now; he isn’t there.
I used to find him in his closet. I’d bury my face in his clothes and breathe deeply.
There are still a few things that belong to him, but they no longer smell like him. Or not like I remember him. He’s not there anymore either.
I used to find him at his desk. No one touched dad’s desk. Ever. He knew where everything was, and what everything was, and no one dared to roll the top up.
I used it for a workspace during my most recent visit. He isn’t there either.
I finally found him in the bedroom; his shoes were still under the foot of the bed, right where he left them; but not for long…
We took mom shopping while we were with her, and she bought new chairs and a new mattress. I spoke with her this week and when the new bed was delivered she moved dad’s shoes; and she donated his chair. I’m really proud of her. She is moving forward into her new normal and she seems to be doing it in a way that is healthy for her. With every step I ask her, “Mom are you sure you’re ready for this?” and she always says, “Yes, it’s hard, but I’m ready.”
There are still some of dad’s footprints around: there are lots of pictures of him in every room, his coffee mugs, his computer chair and the TV he bought before he went into the hospital for the last time. He has not been forgotten; we tell lots of stories about him and there is still a huge lump in my throat when I think of him.
It’s been less than two years since dad left and his footprints are fading way too fast. But I know that’s the way of life. You are born. You live. You die. And people learn to live without you. It’s inevitable.
Very few people leave a long-lasting impression. Who will be remembered in 100 years? Beyoncé? I’m sure that 100 years ago people thought Alma Gluck would be remembered forever, too. What? You’ve never heard of Alma Gluck? She had the 1915 hit record, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.”
See what I mean?
Only one of my grandsons has sharp memories of his great-grandpa. The others will only know him through photos and stories; the same way I know my great-grandparents. And my great-grandchildren will probably not know me. The footprints that I leave behind will probably fade just as quickly as dad’s.
“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” – James 4:14 NIV
However, there is a great comfort for me in knowing that dad isn’t dead. He is alive and well and living in the presence of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth. And one day I will introduce him to all my grandchildren and great grandchildren and we will all make new footprints, knee prints and hand prints as we kneel together at the feet of Jesus.
“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 NIV
But being together in heaven is not a given; only the person who accepts Jesus as his or her personal Savior will spend eternity with him. My responsibility is to introduce my family members to this Jesus, the only One who made footprints in heaven before he made footprints on earth, the only One whose footprints are eternal.
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:6-11 NIV
Introducing people to Jesus is the most important footprint I can leave behind when I die. I hope I am successful. I hope that people will say of me, “She had beautiful feet.”
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are not sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” – Romans 10:14-15 NIV