As I wrote this title, I asked myself: Good cheer? Is that possible? Will I be able to express what I have learned this week? I am praying for God’s hand in writing this post.
The world swirls around me with terrible or shocking events, duties, and details. My focus returns to God and my dad. I am finding dying creates a cocoon effect. Right now I do care about the world around me, but I am laser focused on my dying father. Yesterday I prayed for those lost and hurting by the Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. My heart goes out to those touched by this violence. That was all I could do. My focus went right back to dad.
Yesterday, we made funeral plans and went to see him. The nurse told us, “He is declining.” But, I need to share the blessings from this week. The pain in this journey makes it hard to remember God’s gifts. I don’t know about you but, I have a hard time looking past the difficulties. I need to remind myself of the blessings. I’m a positive person because I choose to be positive. However, being of “Good Cheer” does not come naturally to me. So I looked it up the phrase in the scriptures.
The King James Versions use the term “be of good cheer.” The term seems to be only used by Jesus and the Apostle Luke in the book of Acts. I am focusing here on Jesus’ encouragement. In Matthew 9:2, Jesus tells the paralytic “…Son be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.” I think the man must have been afraid. I understand this fear. I know the fear of what others say or think. This man was probably judged all his life for his palsy. Jesus gave him a choice “be of good cheer.” It was a choice to choose God over the law (judgement).
In Mark 6:50 Jesus is walking on the water towards His disciples. He senses they are troubled and calls out to them; “Be of good cheer: it is I, be not afraid.” Jesus calms them and the sea.
The scripture that touches me most today is at the Last Supper where Jesus is teaching about what is to come. In John 16:33 Jesus says: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” In other words look for the blessings. They are all around us, even when things are hard, sad, unfair, or tragic.
This week, a dear friend suggested I find an image of my father when things were good. She told me to place it in my mind and dwell on the good. I immediately thought of dad’s face when he walked me down the aisle to marry my Love. My dad beamed with love and pride. Then at home I walked down my hall and a picture in a collage caught my eye. It was my dad with my love and princes in front of a restaurant for dad’s birthday. All my guys! Dad was laughing and enjoying us, his family. This friend gave me God’s gift of precious memories to dim the difficult times with my dad.
My husband is showing me God’s gift of love and support. He’s running errands, making calls and gathering information for me. Mostly he has been here to physically support me by listening and holding me when I cry. He is walking through this valley with me physically. He also points out the humor to lighten my heart. He was the one who talked dad down from fixing the well. We were in the VA hospital, Dad was insisting on getting up to fix the leak in the well.
“No dad we fixed the well. Lay back and relax. The job is done.”
Dad laid back and sits up again. “The hoses…hoses are everywhere.” he waves his hand around an empty ER room. What he sees is property stuff to be done. Hoses are out and need to be put away.
“Dad, the men are putting the hoses and tools away now. Lay back and rest.”
Dad lies back again, and then murmurs “On the ground? Lay on the ground?”
I had to bite my lip to stifle the giggle bubbling up. My love shot me a grin. We watched my dad settle back into sleep. It was another God gift given, humor. To be able to see true humor, not mean or vindictive, is a gift. I am positive God loves to laugh! We are made in his image (Genesis 1:27). So he must have humor in him since, we have humor in us.
When Hospice was preparing to transport him to the inpatient unit; I leaned over placing a kiss on my dad’s forehead. I told him I would see him later. When I said “I love you.” my dad looked up into my eyes and smiled. I finally connected with him, God’s gift to soothe a daughter’s soul.
Yesterday when I visited dad at Hospice, he was sleeping. I sensed others in the room. I sensed my dad’s presence even though he was non-responsive. I also sensed my sister and his mother, my grandmother. I got close to him, kissing his cheek, I told him I loved him and to go towards the light. Always go towards the light. Your daughter and mama are waiting. I joined my husband on the couch. He held me as a sobbed a little. We talked in whispers while watching my dad. His only movement was the rise and fall of his chest with an occasional twitch of his shoulders. He is comfortable and peaceful.
Another friend told me to take the time to say goodbye while he is still here. This had given her peace when her mother passed away. In my head I debated telling him goodbye. I finally found my courage. I went back to my father’s side and kissed his cheek telling him it is okay to go. I would miss him and I love him. I would see him again on the other side. I know in my soul he heard his little girl say goodbye…for now. This gift is God’s gift of acceptance, forgiveness, and peace.
Today I can feel John 16:33: Jesus has overcome the world! For me this is all-encompassing. Choose good cheer Milly! I have overcome every aspect of life, the good and bad. I have overcome sin and death. Be of good cheer. Your father is in good hands. I hold him in my arms.
Today, be of good cheer. The King of the Universe walks with us,