This week is my dad’s birthday. If he wouldn’t have died over thirty-five years ago, he would be eighty-six years young now. Today, he would have had the privilege to celebrate with his children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren.
There would have been cake, I’m certain of that. Even though he never liked anyone fussing over him, he would have appreciated the gesture. Maybe he and I would have made it together, just like the old days. He helped me made my first cake—yellow box cake with chocolate frosting. It was frosted in globs and sat lopsided on the plate, but he told me it was a work of art.
And I believed him.
I’m certain the conversation would have gotten around to hunting. My brothers and I would remind him that he took us all hunting when we were old enough. I can hear him now, saying he didn’t hunt much after we grew up and left home. He’d say it wasn’t the same.
I can understand how that could be true.
I’d remind him how he taught me gun safety rules from the time I was little. He taught all of us not to ever point a gun at anyone because terrible things could happen and there may be no going back.
I believed him about that, too.
That’s why today is so terribly sad. When Dad was at a low point in his life … when he felt there was no going forward … when he felt there was more bad than good … he chose to commit suicide.
How could I believe life was good after he did that?
It took many years of making my own mistakes and trying to control all the bad around me to realize he was wrong. I believed him on so many topics, but this one thing—this last thing—I chose not to believe. Instead, I chose and still choose, to rely on my other father, my Heavenly Father. He tells me a different story. He says, he’ll never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) … he has plans for me, plans for my future (Jeremiah 29:11)… that there will be troubles but he has overcome them all (John 16:33)… and the list goes on. I’m in a good place now, but it took years of hard work and I needed to accept baskets of grace from God.
Please, if you ever get so depressed that you think there’s no hope, remember my story. Today there is no cake for me. Instead, I have the memory of the day when I received the call telling me how I lost my dad. I have carried heartache, confusion and misdirected guilt years. Thank God for my Savior. He helps me carry those memories.
If you’re in a dark place, hang in there. Love your families, love your friends and give your situation one more day before you do something that can’t be undone. Remember my story.