There are lots of walks that people make in their lifetime. Some are important, some are not. Some of those walks are tougher than others, and some seem like they take forever, because you know you can’t wait to have what’s at the end. Some are painful, some are joyous. Some are profitable, some will end with you losing everything.
Whether we do it purposefully or accidentally, most of us walk into our destiny.
As I get older, most of my walks are getting easier.
There is one walk however, that I just can’t seem to master.
It’s about 75 feet. I usually make it later in the day, and I don’t make it near as often as I should, because it’s tough. I make it 25 feet, and I break down. I pass the memories of others on the way, but those are overshadowed by my own. The sadness is a tangible thing, I can feel it, it thickens the air, it is heavy and oppressing.
There are two stones in the ground just before I arrive at my destination. They are marked with letters I can’t recall, no names. I step over them every time, and yet I give no thought to who they might of been. Looking past my destination, I see another name, I won’t mention it here, but my heart aches for the family every time I see it.
At last I’m standing in front of it, and the reality sinks in. On one side is my mother’s name. It has her date of birth, and then nothing. A fear grips me. The fear of when I’ll see a date there. I calm myself, then I see the name. Brian Ronald. Then I look to the top of the headstone and see my surname. Sloat. It sinks in.
When the tears fall, they start a battle inside my soul. One half wants to curse God for taking him. The other half knows the “Sunday School” answer, and knows that he is in a better place. The war rages within me, it is a struggle between life and death, fairness and spirituality. Anyone who has ever seen me talk about my dad has seen this battle raging in my eyes.
The bitter side of me that wants to curse God hasn’t won in a long time. I wonder when it will die?
Saturday night I went there. I had a mission.
You see, I had a lucky fishing lure. It caught more fish than any other lure I’ve ever had. It was a white and black rooster tail with one of the treble hooks broken off. I used it a couple weeks ago and caught several fish with it, and then the lure became too damaged to use anymore. I still didn’t want to get rid of it though.
Then a thought hit me.
I’d give it to dad.
I pulled up late Saturday night, made it 50 feet, and the battle started. I cleared the pine needles off of his resting place, and the bitterness bit deep, sank its claws into my heart and made it ache in a way that cleared my mind, focused me. Every time I see his name I’m reminded that life isn’t fair. In fact, life is incredibly unfair. But that’s okay, we were never promised fairness.
It was harder to let go of that lure than I thought it would be. The finality of it. Something I had no use for. Something I knew that my dad, somewhere, was getting a kick out of. Maybe he was there? The Bible says that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses at all times. Maybe he was watching me. I bet he hurt, but I bet he was laughing. I lost a lot of his rooster tails as a kid. They weren’t cheap, so it was a big deal anytime I lost one. He’d get a kick out of me finally returning one, and it not being fit to use.
In 16 days he’ll have been gone 10 years. To those of you reading this that are wondering if your loss will ever get easier, I have bad news. It doesn’t. The pain does become less frequent though.
There is a river in Heaven. The Bible tells me that. There are fish in that river. Huge ones. The Bible doesn’t tell me that, but how would God NOT stock a river that big and clear?
Good luck with that rooster tail, Dad. I love you.