Thursday, February 9, 2012

Christ-mass

About a week ago I received the latest DVD of my father preaching. It was Christmas eve mass. Unlike the prior DVDs I received, where I would tear open the envelope and pop it in at the first opportune moment. Eager to see - hear my father preach. Each DVD giving me a sense of closeness to him. A greater sense of knowing. A sense of learning of him and gathering of lost moments. This DVD was different. It sat on my coffee table until this day. I told myself that it was stress .... tiredness of my spirit, which disallowed me to immediately witness what my father's message would be.

The last DVD I watched nearly rendered me deaf. I had become lost in the vision of my father as he remained stationary behind the pulpit. Where he would typically pace as he spoke. Each word met with a step. The cancer had broken his stride. His tiredness evident in his posture. His presence. The shortening of his messages.

My heart broke as I watched him.

I suppose I am blessed in that I am able to see the 'before' and the 'after' ... to see how this disease has caused dis-ease in him.

On this day I inhaled a breath, which I am sure inflated my toes, and I popped in the DVD. I watched the singing and the worship. I saw my step mother speak of faith. What it meant to be faithful. I found her words to be soul piercing as I thought of how she clings to her faith as she watches her life-long partner battle what is perhaps going to be the greatest battle of his life since leaving his former life for that of a life with Christ.

I watch and I think of how she is gathering any and all information she can get her hands on. As she chops vegetables to make soups and juices for dad. As she lives in her kitchen ... serving him. As she places her own health on the back burner in order to be his soft place to fall.

How strong must her faith be.

I watch as a young man sang 'Mary did you know?" ... and my mind goes to the book I received from my father and step mother this past Christmas. The card that housed a charm of the North Star, which now lives on my key chain. A star I hold tightly wrapped in my fingers each and every time I leave my home. I feel in a way that not only does Christ walk with me each time I venture into the world. But my father is also with me.

The message. Was his message. Not allowing ourselves to become seduced by only the presents and the food as we gathered with loved ones on Christmas day. But to remember and carry in our hearts the meaning of Christ-mas. That Jesus was born. And we celebrate and honour his birth.

I listen to stories told by my dad of how my sisters would call out as young children, eager to dive into the pile of presents under the tree. "Is it time??"

I immediately become sad as I know I should have been included in those stories. That the stories should be memories for me. Alas they are just stories.

I wonder how many stories I will hear. I wonder how many memories I will be able to create with my father. Memories that I will one day recall as stories. I wonder if there will be time to fill a book of stories. Or if the book will be only a chapter.

I find myself angry. Confused. My soul aches. I ask WHY!?! Why would you bring me to him now - after 43 years of searching for my father. Only to take him away from me?!?

I am thankful that I found him - before it was too late. Perhaps our stories will not be epic novels. Perhaps they may only be short stories. Does that make them less valuable?

Am I selfish because I want more time with him?

I read my sister's writings, as she pens her time with him. She speaks of climbing up next to him on his lazy boy and pressing her ear to his chest. Listening to his heart beating. How I envy her. How I wish that I could hear his heart beating. Feel his arms embracing me. Feel his heart embracing me.

I pray that day will soon arrive.

I find myself weeping as I watch the DVD. The lights dim and the candles are lit. The warm glow kissing the faces of the faithful as they gather around my father and step mother. I find myself singing along with them as my heart beats shallowly in the background.

I think of the DVDs being shipped to me and I wonder how I will watch them. Knowing that this past Sunday may be the last day he will preach. Knowing that each day he becomes weaker. Knowing that his life has become a calendar - each day numbered.

I wonder how many times I will be able to see him in life. I wonder if I will be strong in his presence. I wonder if I will hold on to faith.

I wonder if faith, like life, is fleeting.