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Posts Tagged ‘Dad’

Last Supper

My dad died a year ago today. I wrote this poem about a moment during his last days that has stuck with me over the past year.

Last Supper

You said you looked forward to a new body,
one incorruptible and free of disease,
light without the weight of waiting.
Much of your world was sleep by then
and the dreams you had were evident in your eyes;
but this declaration came from a clear mind,
even though the words you said later
showed you were slipping away.
You said you looked forward to death
and I marveled.

Out of a plastic bag came a broken body,
from a plastic bottle a thimble-full of blood;
plastic tubing had sent chemicals into your body,
causing numbness in your fingers,
but you did not note the similarity.
Your bed was matted in the same way that Grandpa’s was;
a sick body is a heavy one.
You sat on that bed and listened to words you’d heard
spoken many times from a pulpit.
I held the bread and the cup and knew
that I was being given a gift,
far more than a collection of images to scrawl down a year later,
but a moment to hide in my heart forever.
In remembering, we were hoping for a miracle,
but, remembering now, I realize that miracle was given long ago:
a figure on a cross and an empty tomb.

Death did come for you soon after,
not in triumph, but only as a guide.
When I got that call, my last words to you echoed in my head,
saturating me like wine soaking into a loaf of bread,
life blood beating in my ears.
“I love you.”
Deposited in the air, whispered daily in every breath,
back to me, again and again and again:
“love—love—love.”

I dream of you sometimes.
They are visions that you fit into so easily;
there’s no shock, no fear.
They are premonitions of a kind that I cannot shake,
like the hue of that last supper with you added
to the tapestry of unresolving colors that springs up
each time I take the bread and cup
and hear His words whispered in my ears:
“I love you.”

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Tribute for Dad

For Dad

When I was child, you would carry me to my bed, asleep and helpless.
And in that embrace, Dad, I knew the unspoken security and love that you provided.
You were my kid-brain’s image of God.

I knew the same comfort when you picked me up after I smashed Mom’s car,
the calm reassurance of your experience and patience: a father’s love for a son.

I knew your humor every time you reached over to me in the car when I was little and tickled me
until I was squirming and practically screaming for you to stop,
only wanting you to attack again so I could hopelessly defend against it.

So many nights I heard the plucked strings of your guitar float into my room;
so many times squinted into the flashing light of your camera as you recorded the beauty of the world,
a responsibility you held sacred.

You were always a wellspring of wisdom to me, a guidepost for right and wrong,
though I’d seldom admit that to you: a son’s love for a father.

It’s hard to write about you in the past tense,
knowing that you won’t be here to get so angry when the Brown’s screw up,
that I can’t call you for advice on even the most basic of adult tasks.
That you’ll never know my wife or my children.

But it is equally joyful to write about your present, your now.
You are with Christ, who you loved and showed how to love;
you’ve been reunited with your own father;
you no longer know the pain of this broken world.
And you’re witnessing mysteries unfold before you that we can only guess at.

The full realization of your absence will dawn slowly
as we learn to see the world without you.
How can I sum up what you mean to me in a few hastily written lines?
I can’t.
I dip into my well of memory to pull out the poignant moments,
but what comes instead is the remembrance of your day-to-day omnipresence in my life.
It is the swirling images of the camera you always had at hand,
a montage of the little things that now creates the pangs of heartache.
God blessed us with your humor, your pragmatism, your unwavering support…

We miss you already, Dad, and we’ll miss you more as time goes on.
But we have the memories of our shared laughter and love
and the knowledge that you are in the presence of the Source of all love and grace.
I like to think that you’re getting to do a bit of flying now,
like the birds and airplanes that you so admired.

Farewell for now, Pop. We’ll see you again.

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