We walked in this afternoon (Friday) and Dad lay there, just as he had the day before. He looked like he was sleeping. But, it was only what he left behind that was there in that room. Shan and I talked and thought a lot about what was 'missing' from what we saw. Dad looked peaceful and rested, but something was missing from the body of the man that lay in front of us. And we knew - Dad's personality, vitality, life... Dad left us for another world last Saturday, and as we grieved around him, we knew he had moved on beyond that room, beyond Iraq, beyond this world.
Today, we cried. We held Dad's hand. Mom kissed him goodbye. We cried. We laughed and we cried some more. And, we laughed, just as if Dad was with us all along.
The service was perfect. Bro. Perry managed to capture the very essence of Dad from talking with us and others that knew him. We told Bro. Perry that we wanted a light-hearted service because that was Dad. We celebrated his life, not his passing (though we did that, too). From the opening, "This will be a 15-minute job..." to the gathering of friends and family around us in the chapel, it was 100% my Dad.
I know I shouldn't have been surprised by now, but I was still amazed at just how many people my Dad managed to touch in his life - sometime in only the span of two weeks or a couple hours... I think it would have surprised him, too.
In a way, I think everything happened the way it did because it was the way we all needed it to happen. The time it took for Dad to get here (though fast in calendar days, forever in our hearts), the time we had to grieve, to reflect, to remember, all worked together for a greater plan. Dad was doing a job that he loved doing, and in the process, touching lives, touching people. He came to understand a different set of priorities than he had been used to. He touched people thousands of miles away that would have never known him. He brought comfort to people in the midst of their personal hard times (several of those people came today and told me just how Dad had helped them). He made sure that we knew how much he loved us and missed us. He had made plans to do the things he always wanted to do - visit Scotland and St. Andrews, take the family to Disney World.
Tyler and Emily drew pictures that we placed in his casket. Emily's had hearts and a picture of herself and she had her brother help her write "I love you Poppy" on it, with grass and trees and "Emily H." Tyler's was a picture of himself with a mansion and a swimming pool and a garden. It says, "I love you!" and "Wait for me in your mansion!" But, of all the things that he wrote, Tyler said it all in these four simple written words:
"You Made Us Smile!"
Though our hearts are still very, very heavy right now, and we miss you so very, very much, Dad, we hang on to those words with all our hearts - You made us smile!