Loss of Parents

Out of the Storm

A new book, Out of the Storm, was published about a week ago. It’s an anthology of short stories, winners in a short story competition hosted by a Texas chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers and HopeSprings Books. I have a short story in that book, “A Rumspringa Storm.”

I received my box of books three days ago. There’s something special about seeing the first book you have published and holding it in your hands. In this case I had written only one of the stories. But it’s still exciting. I won’t be making any money from the sale of the book. The proceeds will go to a scholarship fund for the American Christian Fiction Writers. It feels good.

As I thought about the significance of the book and its title, I realized that I’m coming out of a storm of my own. Over the past two years my family has been through one crisis after another. My mother died in April of 2013, and my father died last month. My father had dementia and was in the nursing home while my mother died with cancer. Over the last two years my father’s dementia had slowly robbed him of any dignity and all of his memory. His Parkinson’s disease had slowly worsened to the point that he could barely feed himself. He’s in a better place now. That’s where he wanted to be. He’s with God. And he’s with Mom.

As I think back over the last two years and my life during that time, I remember how turbulent it was. Mom’s unexpected diagnosis of colon cancer, then her quick descent and early death. Family issues and conflict that always seem to strain family ties. Then problems with Dad’s health at any hour of the day or night. Phone calls during vacations. Always wondering what would pop up next. And then watching him die with complications of influenza and pneumonia, knowing there was nothing we could do.

Now there is an empty feeling, a calm after the storm. But it is unsettling. All of the connections to the past are gone with Mom and Dad gone. It feels like a space with no landmarks, disorienting. Which way do we go? Where are we, even? What do we do next?

Conflict with family will continue…for awhile. Time for things set aside in the past couple years will return. Life will go on. But an emptiness will persist in my heart.

God’s presence is needed now more than ever. And His promise to never leave us is the foundation I depend on.

I’m sad that neither my mother nor my father lived to see my first published book. My next book, Mark of the Fire, is dedicated to Dad and uses the theme that was his favorite Bible passage to recite: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I now realize my father gave me the advice I needed for this period of my life. The storm is over. Now what? I hear a voice telling me, “Trust the Lord to guide your path. You are now out of the storm.”