There are certain times in life we never forget. Like the day you got married, or the day your children were born. Other times we never forget, but with a more solemn memory is the day our loved ones died. It was 45 years ago today that my dad was killed in a car accident. He was only 58 years old.
I was just a teenager but it’s a day I will never forget. There were no last goodbyes, and no opportunity to tell him how much I loved him. Oh, how I wished there was time to tell him how proud I was of him – the father who loved me unconditionally, the man who served our country during World War II, and the man who did his best to provide for our family.
As I grew up and life moved forward I wondered if my life would have been different if my dad had lived to a wonderful old age. One day shortly before he died I’ll never forget how he comforted me during a difficult time. He wrapped his arms around me and said, “Don’t worry, honey, I’ll take care of you.”
While I was raised in the church and had given my life to the Lord as a young teen my dad never went to church with us. He believed he had done things during World War II that God could not forgive. So, when he died I never really knew if he went to heaven or not. It remained heavy on my heart for many years. As time went on I placed it on a shelf in the recesses of my mind and left it there, only taking it down every now and again.
It wasn’t until the day my daughter Melanie ran ahead to heaven, when I received an answer to the question I had pondered for so long. Below is an excerpt from my book, Beautifully Broken Finding Hope During Loss which answered my question:
On February 18, 2020, at approximately 9:45 a.m. I turned on the shower letting it get hot and steamy. Our shower is enclosed in glass and when I saw the steam billowing out from above that was my queue it was ready. A moment after I stepped in, I turned and looked outward into the bathroom when in front of me I saw my father – my father who had died 42 years ago! I looked at him, and quickly began assessing what was before me. He looked so much younger than I had remembered him to be, and his eyes though looking toward me did not appear to look directly at me. In hindsight, this made me feel better since I am, after all, in the shower. I literally closed my eyes, squeezing them tightly shut and re-opening them. When I did, he was still there. He was dressed completely in white, wearing a long sleeve, white button-down shirt with a stand-up collar. The buttons were brown and were very small unlike what you would see on a shirt today. As my eyes began to follow his body downward, I didn’t see pants or legs but only what appeared to me as a very thick, heavy white coat. In this moment, I assumed I wasn’t seeing his legs because of the substantial steam covering the shower door. All of this took place in a matter of seconds. After blinking my eyes, it didn’t take long for the reality of what I was seeing to hit me…
If this sounds pretty unbelievable, I understand. It was pretty incredulous to me, too! It wasn’t until 42 hours later, when I realized that during the exact time I had this encounter with my Dad two other very important and life-changing things had occurred:
- I learned that moments after this encounter my daughter took her last breath here on earth. I believe my dad escorted Melanie to heaven. She was not alone, nor afraid but ushered into the presence of our Heavenly Father by her grandfather. This is one of those times in life I will never forget.
- God in only his miraculous, undeniable way took something that only He could do and allowed me to see my dad in all his heavenly glory. Upon seeing my dad dressed like he was, there was no denying that he did in fact go to heaven when he died.
We remember the most beautiful moments of our lives, and on the flip side, we remember the most painful. Such is the circle of life.
Today, 45 years later instead of remembering the sadness of the day my dad was killed in a car accident, I will choose to remember how he lived and loved. As I look at the Bronze Star he received for his service to our country I will remember the war hero he was. I will take comfort knowing that he is in heaven, along with my mom and daughter. One day I will get to talk with him, wrap my arms around him and tell him how grateful I am that he was there for my girl when she needed someone the most.