Being a Father, Trusting the Father

thoughts from the house of mourning

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Oh, Eva, Eva, my sweet daughter. I so want to talk to you, and I so want to talk to other people about you. My heart is torn and empty and full–all at the same time. How can that be? I know that you fell into the arms of your loving heavenly Father when you died 14 days ago, though how I wish it were my arms. Maybe it’s okay that I write a few words to you, and maybe it’s okay that I let other people hear what I want to say. I don’t want to brag about you, which you would not have approved of. I want to shout out about the joy you brought to me and Mom and Christopher and so many others.

I was so blessed to be your father, and still to be your father. And so blessed to see how Mom loved you from the moment you were born until the moment you died. You came to us 12 years after we were married. You kept us hopping, you precocious little squirt. You were interested in everything, especially the creative. When your were in grade school and your story got an award and was read on the local PBS station, I knew a literary soul was emerging, and that was true. I had a hard time keeping up with your understanding of literature when you were in college. Your drawings and paintings were amazing. I see in them beauty and playfulness, but also an honest dealing with and acceptance of mortality. Did you know even then that you would not have a long life? We’ll never know. There are so many mysteries. So many unanswered questions. I have to trust that our days are numbered. So many of your days were truly wonderful. I am so sorry you have been so ill for the past few years. I’m glad you said you felt safe and loved in our home and family.

I knew that people would recall to us your beauty and intelligence and curiosity and liveliness and creativity. What blew me away, however, is hearing from your friends of your character. How you influenced them. How they trusted you. How you were always intensely present with anyone you talked to. How you wanted to go deep. How you were courageously honest. How you tried so hard to help others. How you made us laugh. How you’d show kindness to total strangers.

You kept me honest. No spiritual game-playing. No cliches. No self-righteousness. You told me what people needed to know, and that helped me with my sermons and my books. And when I bought a sport coat or shoes that made me look stupid, one shake of your head,  a quizzical look from you, a “Dad… no,” and it was back to the store.

I keep thinking that everything you were is what this world needs, Eva. Expressing beauty in the face of ugliness, depth instead of superficiality, honesty instead of deception. This world is worse off with you gone. So I will try, as much as I can, to talk to people about how we all need to do better, in obedience to God. That life is too short to play games. That we need to be selfless and completely respectful of others. I’m just puzzled why this is not obvious to all of us all the time.

When I looked at my “Favorites” list on my cell phone the other day, there was your name, just below Mom’s and just above Christopher’s. I sobbed and wailed because I knew if I pressed the button, no one would answer. How can that be? I can’t call you now, but I can speak to you. And I will. And I will speak and write about the things you and I talked about.

We are in a house of mourning now. We are looking for solace, and we are finding it in our faith in the character of God. There is no way that a girl as lovely and good as you would ever have graced this world unless the God of all creation is the highest good and the greatest beauty. I know you are in the hands of the Father whose love for you is magnified many times more than even my love for you.  And so we trust, and then we cry, and then we trust again. We love you.

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29 thoughts on “Being a Father, Trusting the Father

  1. We who have lost a child can understand the agony and suffering you and your family are now enduring. It is painful beyond words, and for me whose teenaged daughter died over thirty-four years, there still are tear-filled moments Where oh where would we be without Jesus….
    Praying for you, dear servant of God.
    Anne Owens

  2. I have not lost one of my children but at my age I have lost so many who helped me on my walk with the Lord and I am so thankful that God put them in my path. Miss them, I do, love them, I will always and thank theLord for them each and every day.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Dear Pastor Mel,
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart feeling with so much f truth and honesty, so transparent, at the same time such a deep faith on Heavenly Father.
    I am so touched and it is very very special to my heart on this Father’s Day. Not only this but your expression deepened my fath much more than yesterday. As I feel your pain I am also able to rejoice with you for HOPE which is set before us.
    Thank you and our prayers are with you and the family.
    Paul Dass
    INDIA.

  4. Thank you Pastor Mel for sharing your grief with us. Thank you as well for the beautiful letter. Please believe that Fed-Ex or U.P.S.. Could not have expedited your words of grief. Faster, to the throne room of Grace. Than God’s angels. That were gathered around you. Watching and waiting for you to write them out. Please have a wonderful day.

  5. Thank you for sharing your heart Mel…it gives me a deeper glimpse into what the Father’s heart must feel for those who are not with Him through faith this Father’s Day. Thank you for continuing to trust Him in the midst of such trying pain and grief…I am certain that if you could call Eva today she would say… ‘Keep trusting dad, you will not be disappointed!’ Happy Father’s Day Mel…you have done a great job as a dad…Eva is home, safe and well.

  6. I remember when I knew my daughter was dying, I prayed “But, God, she’s my daughter!” He answered, “But, she’s my daughter, too!”
    It’s never easy losing a child, and I pray for God’s peace and comfort for you and your family.
    If there would be any way you could scan any of her drawings, especially when she was younger, I’d love to see them.

  7. Thank you for sharing who Eva is in these heartfelt words. Beautiful, soulful, kind and loving. You are a good Father. Jesus will hold your broken heart until you are ready. It is never quite the same again but he mends the brokeness with his assurance that you will see Eva again. Every blessing to you.

  8. What good could ever possibly come out of this? To suffer for a loss of a gift that has been dedicated to the Lord anyway, for a child of God that was not lost. I looked, but I could not find an answer. Here we are, crying out to God, “why Lord?” why, why, why? A pain for life, not a test, in this valley of death, seeking the everlasting light, to find the answer. Lord, comfort Mel & Ingrid, as we mourn about the death of Eva.
    In HIS strength,
    Hans J. Humenberger

  9. Mel, I am so sorry to hear of your loss and thank you so much for sharing this, it has meant so much to me. It has taught me to appreciate my own daughter so much more, she is a lot like Eva as you describe her. Naomi too is interested in everything, creative, has done amazing drawings, makes beautiful jewellery and is so caring with a soft heart for everyone.
    So thank you again for your openness and be assured of our prayers.

    I still remember with fondness my time with you on one of the first International Centres at Elmbrook.

  10. Thank you for sending this out. In the last weeks as I pray for you, the words that come to mind are “May the Lord bless you and keep you.” With the deep feeling of the old Jewish tradition.

    And may you soon begin to see the new shoots of life in your own three lives as you work your grief out with our heavenly Father. Some may be the traditional sharing that only those who know grief can do with peers who hurt, but I fully believe other green shoots will be as creative and fresh as Eva, with her fingerprints all over them!

  11. Dear Mel,
    Thanks for the thoughts on your daughter. Sorry to hear of her passing. May you and your family be comforted and strengthened by God’s grace.
    Phil & Sally Helwig

  12. The love of a father for his precious daughter is more than obvious, and even though Eva isn’t speaking out loud , her love for her dad is also obvious s well. God has blessed your family Mel . Some day you will be able to ask the big WHY question. Thanks for sharing. My heart is with you and your family’

  13. So touching! it reminds me that we should always treasure the people around us, for no-one knows the time of The Lord.

  14. Thank you, Mel, for your words of faith and hope in the midst of your suffering. Praying for you, Ingrid & Christopher.

  15. Mel,

    Thank you for sharing your daughter, your heart and your faith with us. We mourn with you as your words encourage our faith.

  16. Dear Mel & Ingrid, We were so sorry to hear about the death of your daughter Eva. Our hearts go out to you, as well as our prayers. 19 years ago, we lost our daughter Eve, she was 27 years old. She also had an illness but she was taken from us quite unexpectedly. At the time, I felt so alone but through the support of friends , family & others who had experienced the loss of a child, we learned to live with the loss. I think of our daughter everyday, there is a wound in my heart that will never heal. The Lord has supported us through this journey.
    We continue to pray for all of you daily, may the love of the Lord give you comfort.

    Susan & Leo Giulianetti

  17. Thank you Pastor Mel for your beautiful thoughts on your precious Daughter. We are praying for your family that in God’s time he will give you his peace.
    The memorial service for Eva was beautiful. It was special to see the body of Christ come together.
    You will continually be in our prayers.

  18. I am so very sorry for your loss. As the mother of three grown children, I can’t fathom, even for a second, the depth of your grief. The only wonderful thing, and forgive me for using that word at this time, is that Eva is in the arms of our Saviour & you will see her again. So, you mourn with hope. Thank you or your courage in sharing your heart with us & God bless you & your family & give you His courage & strength to keep moving forward.

  19. I am so sorry to learn of your great loss. You expressed your love for your daughter
    in such a moving and beautiful way that I was moved to tears. How blessed your
    daughter was to live in a home where she was so dearly loved.
    You can be assured many, many friends are remembering you and your family in
    prayer. May our great, loving, and kind Heavenly Father hold you close, and may
    you and your family feel His presence.
    Alice

  20. What a beautiful tribute to your loving daughter. You are truly blessed that she touched so many lives. Blessings to you and your family.

  21. Dear Mel, what a wonderful tribute to a beautiful daughter. Having lost a son by suicide 4 years ago all I can say is that losing a child is the hardest thing to endure. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  22. Such beautiful words.I feel your love for your daughter in every line.She was truly loved,and you miss her but know that she is in a much better place, and missing her is part of the healing process.I know in time it will get easier as you continue to trust in God’s grace, and in Him and through Him you and your family will be fine. God bless you Pastor Mel and your family, and I will keep praying for you all.

  23. I’m so sorry you are missing your daughter, Eva. My heart cries with you even though I don’t know you or her. How devastating. May you have peace and comfort from God’s loving arms around you