This is the day. Exactly nine years ago my father passed away. He was 64 years old. Too young.
I remember the day my dad called me to tell me that he had cancer. It was November 1st, 2004. Rick and I were living in my in-law’s basement in Springville, UT, and Rick wasn’t there. He was at class or work or something, and wasn’t able to come home to be with me. At that time, my dad said it was lung cancer, which I thought was strange, since he was a non-smoker. But I knew right away that he wouldn’t be around much longer, though I held on to the hope that I was wrong. After I hung up the phone, I poked my head into my mother-in-law’s office where she and my father-in-law were chatting. I shared the news and they commiserated. My mom and stepdad drove down from Salt Lake to take me and the kids to dinner because they didn’t want me to be alone.
It turns out that my dad’s cancer was much more advanced than we all realized. It had started as colon cancer and then quickly spread throughout his entire body, so that by the time it was found, it was too late to do any chemotherapy or any other type of treatment. In a last hope effort, I called literally every single Mormon temple in the United States (including Hawaii) and even a couple in Brazil, to have his name put on the prayer list, so that he would have the prayers of millions of people, and miraculously be healed.
But that wasn’t in the plan.
For Thanksgiving that year, my brother and sisters, and a friend of mine, flew me and Rick and our two little tiny kids out to Oregon to my sister Beth’s home, where she was caring for my dad. We spent the holiday eating, laughing, crying, singing, holding hands, massaging my dad’s feet and back, trying to alleviate some of his discomfort and pain, and all of our hearts. It was the last time I ever got to hold my dad’s hands. He always had warm hands, no matter what the weather was doing. Always. And I always loved that about him.
At his funeral, I didn’t touch him. I didn’t want to feel the cold that had overtaken his hands. That’s not my dad. It looked like him, right down to his glasses, but it wasn’t him. I remember at that moment, (and really for the first time, since this was the very closest to home I had ever felt a death) being so grateful to know that I would see him again. HIM. Knowing that I would be able to hug him and hold his warm hands.
Every once in a while I’m granted a dream that I could swear is real. A few months ago I dreamed that I was sitting with a friend in a cafeteria at a college and I saw a man looking at one of those boards where people post rides needed, things for sale, apartments for rent, etc. I went to him and smiled as he turned around to look at me. It was my dad. He engulfed me in a hug and I really felt his arms around me. He didn’t say anything, but smiled. I told him that he needs to come around more. I haven’t seen him that vividly in a dream since then, but I often see him in passing strangers, and I thank God for those glimpses. Because even nine years later, I miss him every day.