So where am I after a year?

Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries – they never meant much to me. I mean it’s just another day and while the thought or memory behind it might be good, the actual day itself really never meant much. Taking off your birthday? I’ve started doing that in recent years but it’s not like I do anything special. It’s just an excuse to be off work and have some time to myself or work on projects. Anniversaries? Great when you first start off but over the years they just get to be another day too. But what to you do when an anniversary represents the worse day of your life? The day when so many hopes, joys and memories evaporated? You’d like to just skip over it, right? Again, it’s not like the day itself is any different from the others but now what it represents is the last thing you want to think about.

I've read where the actual day may not be as bad as the emotional toil leading up to it and that seems to have some truth to it. These past few weeks it seems like my mind is more in a daze than usual. It’s not like I’ve forgotten – the moment I wake up I know that Patrick isn’t here. Whether it’s driving to work or sitting on the couch after breakfast on weekends - many days start with tears. So it’s not like the day somehow brings back memories I’ve forgotten but the anxiety of what the looming day represents is hard. Being an introvert, I’ve always felt more comfortable being alone but now it’s even worse. Yes, I love to talk of Patrick and how wonderful he was yet in many ways I am more comfortable being alone in my misery. Going through the motions of life brings no joy. Of course, there are moments of enjoyment, but they are fleeting. I will never be the same as I was - to be melancholy will be ever-present state of my life now. It's not that I don't have hope, I do . . . but it's ultimately not in what this earth holds - it's the future of what Jesus promised. As he said, if his kingdom were of this world his followers would fight but they didn't because this is not where our hope lies.

No one has said anything to me but you get this feeling that you’re supposed to do something on the anniversary of a death. To be reclusive as my natural tendency is somehow makes me feel like I’m not doing homage to his memory. In the end I can’t worry about what anyone thinks and I’ll just stumble along. I thought about trying to get the bench done for his gravesite but it won’t be done by the 6th. While it is getting close and will be unique can I say he would like it? Perhaps if he saw it on someone else’s grave he might but I can’t say I find any solace in making it. Building things for him is something I always enjoyed but I find no pleasure in this particular project.

Kelly and Sean have talked about getting tattoos and in fact Sean has already gotten one. While I'm not a tattoo person, the past couple months some things started coming together in my mind that made this idea start to take root. It started with acknowledging my heart and soul have been marked by Patrick's presence and the loss has left them both hurt and scarred. So in an odd way it seemed rather appropriate that some pain be inflicted on my body and it too be marked. That alone wasn’t enough though, a tattoo just for the sake of having a tattoo didn’t mean anything to me.  It had to have a deeper meaning. One day I read II Samuel 1:26; in this David mourns the loss of his dear friend Jonathan, who was like a brother to him. If you take out the words “Jonathan” & “brother” and insert “Patrick” & “son”, it would read like this: "I grieve for you Patrick, my son. You were dear to me, you love was wonderful, more wonderful than that of a woman".

That resonated with me. While the love & relationship of a husband/wife is special I feel the parent/child - or father/child in my case, is the closest we can get to understanding an Agape love in this world. By no means is it guaranteed but in no other relationship do you literally provide for someone’s daily needs, teaching, training, laughing and watch them grow up to the point you want to release them to live their own lives with that relationship morphing and changing as they grow and develop. Having come from loving parents I thought I knew what love was but being on the other side of parenthood brings a whole new meaning.  As I mulled this over a visual concept of my broken heart and how it can only be healed through the cross of Jesus started to come together.

It wasn’t just me teaching Patrick; he influenced me too. He had an eclectic taste in music and some that I didn’t really like 😊. I’m grateful the Christian worship music he grew up around was still part of that but he also developed a taste for country and got me to like it too. He once told me that he thought Carrie Underwood's "Smoke Break" was my song. Being the straight-laced teetotaler I was, I took offense at first. I thought “I have no desire to smoke or drink!" But as I reflected more on the song, the point was more about people feeling the pressure of life and just want to take a break - to get away from the stress of trying to do the right thing and the symbol of that being sneaking a cigarette or a drink. In that sense I understand what he was saying and at times I do feel that way. In my parents I saw people who stood firm and I wanted to be the stalwart person in my family. Yet life had worn on me and Patrick had seen some of the chinks in my armor and how at times I struggled to resolve my faith and feelings. So while it may not be like smoking or drinking, a tattoo is something I would NEVER have considered but now seems appropriate and meaningful to me. I did this about a month ago and it wasn’t done to mark the anniversary.  While I’m willing to show it to people, like the marks on my soul and heart, the tattoo is not normally seen. It is, along with my personal pain something that covered but just under the surface and always there.  You can see it to the right.  More than just a tattoo it's the story behind it that's important to me.

Given the images I choose for the tattoo, I find it interesting the verse a friend shared with
me the other day. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3.

I truly do look forward to His healing in heaven but struggle to understand what that means
for me on earth right now. Perhaps in time I will understand – or I will just get to go see Patrick
and be fully healed? I don’t know. It does make me feel sad for Sean for she now has a father,
while he can still laugh and be silly at times, has a marked sadness to him and I wish it wasn’t
so for her sake.

This is not something I wanted to share on a public forum but on this website where I have
tried to put some of my thoughts and memories of Patrick in writing it seemed like the right
place. It brings me joy to speak of how wonderful Patrick was and what an honor it was to be
his father and to have the privilege to tell him about Jesus. I can't wait to see him again.