Today marks the third anniversary of the day Nick left us—the third anniversary of the day he arrived in heaven. It has been some time since I’ve paused with fingers on keyboard to collect my thoughts and deliberately think about him, about me, about my family, and about our grief. But the Lord, through the strange providence of having Aileen and me get stranded in a small fishing town in Alaska has given me time to pause, to think, and to write. (The photo above is one I snapped here.)
Time passes at a constant rate, of course, never any faster and never any slower. Yet sometimes it seems to have been so short a time since he died and sometimes it seems to have been so long. Sometimes he feels almost as present in my life as the day I last saw him and sometimes he feels so distant. Sometimes my memories of him are sharp and clear and sometimes they are dim and hazy. Increasingly they are like dreams I’m desperately trying to remember or reminiscences I’m desperately grappling to hold on to. The sound of his voice, the cackle of his laugh, the feel of his hugs—these are all fading into a past that seems ever more distant. I don’t like it that way, but it seems to be how human memory works—that without constant reinforcement, the old gives way to the new and the past to the present. It makes me wonder what I’ll remember of him years from now, or decades.
Today, though, I sure do miss him. I miss having someone who loved me in that unique way a son loves his father, and I miss having someone to love in that unique way a father loves a son. There are many kinds of love, of course, but that father-son bond is sweet, strong, and true. It’s no better than a father-daughter bond. But it’s different. Irreplaceable.
I miss having someone who shared so many of my interests and who was similar to me in so many ways. In varied ways, and mostly good ways, he was a kind of reflection of myself, though one who had the good sense to assume my virtues and eschew my faults.
I miss having someone who was deliberately following in my footsteps—who wanted to be like me enough that he observed and imitated. I miss the challenge of continuing to be worthy of being followed by someone so dear to me as a son.
I miss having someone who was growing beyond me, whose increasing experience and education had begun to reverse the roles so that I was beginning to turn to him for advice and guidance. We were becoming peers, he and I.
I miss the future we had mapped out in our conversations, a future in which he would get married, complete his degree, return to Canada, and take up a position at our church or at one nearby. We had planned to live close together, a family reunited after that time of preparation and education.
We will be reunited, of course, though at a much different time and in much different circumstances. We will be reunited in that place where our faith will become sight, that place where our pain will be erased and our tears wiped away, in that place where this will finally all make sense. He is already there. I will eventually catch up.
In the meantime, God continues to grant us the grace to trust him. None of us have wavered in our confidence that God is good and that in some way even an experience as painful as this is an expression of that goodness. None of us have allowed this to knock us out of the race or to give us an excuse to become less useful to the Lord’s purposes. None of us have allowed this to rob us of our joy or to keep us locked endlessly in sorrow or lament. All of us have committed to staying true to the Lord, to living our lives well, and to looking forward to that day when we will be together again.
Together again with our Savior. Our family whole, our hearts whole, our souls whole. All made whole through the goodness and grace of our God. Until that day I miss my sweet boy. I miss him, I love him, and I can’t wait to see him again.