Tomorrow my dad--my stepdad--is having heart surgery. The angioplasty they tried yesterday didn't work, so they have scheduled a triple bypass.
This is not new territory. My dad--the one my mom was married to my whole life and then some--had heart issues. I have spent many hours in surgery waiting rooms, ICU waiting rooms, and hospital cafeterias. For fifteen years we lived under the shadow of severe heart damage and an aneurysm on the aorta in Dad's heart. I learned well the verse, "Ye, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."
Except I did fear.
I feared the gaping hole in my life if Dad passed on. I feared the pain. I feared trips to the farm to see an empty chair, and I feared drinking coffee alone on chilly spring mornings. I feared that it would never be better...and I feared it would.
And it is.
And today, despite the reality of tomorrow's possible outcome, I don't fear.
I have lived through the gaping hole that felt like it would suck me in forever. I have grieved deeply and hurt more wholly than I ever thought I could, and sometimes chilly spring mornings still sting more than my skin. The chair is empty, but sometimes I would swear I hear his laugh come from that part of the room. Always, I seem aware of his absence.
But it is better.
"...For You are with."
I did not live through the gaping hole alone, and friends, no matter how great their love, can only go so far into that pit with me. Even in the darkest, most empty time, God was speaking life. Time did not heal my heart. The hand of God did. When the morning feels too empty, the Lord fills it with His presence--a bird's song, an iris' bloom, His calm. When I hear that laugh, I know Dad is okay, and in his absence, I am made more aware than ever of God's love and faithfulness, and the gift of life...here and eternal...tells me how greatly He understands the void caused from loss.
I am not in this alone.
Tomorrow my stepdad will not be alone when he goes into that operating room...for You are with him...
We will not be alone in the waiting room...for You are with us...
And in the recovery...whatever that looks like...we will heal...for You are with us.