I cannot believe that two years have passed. Two years since the phone call at dinner that made me numb. So numb that my tear ducts burned but wouldn’t produce any tears. My head couldn’t process the the awful news that my father lost his battle with alcoholism and lost his life that day. His heart stopped beating as the alcohol withdrawal set in and his body couldn’t take it as he started to have seizures, a severe side-effect of alcohol detox that I had warned him about.
I hadn’t spoken to my dad for almost 1.5 years prior to his passing. Alcoholism was a demon that cursed our relationship and I did what I had to do to protect my family. I wrote last year that dad’s death put our family in a blender and that we were still scraping the pieces off the sides… I am happy to reflect that one year later I can finally see that healing has begun. I had not seen my dad’s parents, my grandparents, since the summer of 2011 if my memory serves me correctly. Braden was only 18 months old and the last time we saw my dad together Braden had just turned 2. Things were rocky between my dad’s parents and me and I can’t even explain why. “Picking sides”? Not understanding the full realm of my decision to keep my dad out of my life until he got sober? I don’t know, but it was bad. I heard words from my grandma that no one should have to hear when they are grieving the death of their father. He might not have been in my life the last 1.5 years of my life, but that didn’t erase the previous 28.5 years that he was the most amazing man I ever knew and admired so much.
My dad’s mom called me last year on my 31st birthday. She extended an olive branch after a few less-than-pleasant letters had been exchanged between us since the death of my dad the first year following his passing. I begged my grandma to leave the past in the past where it belonged and that it did no one any good to try to fix things that could not be fixed. I believe in the power of forgiveness, and given enough time, I will pray and forgive people for the pain and hurt they cause me. I forgave my grandma for the pain she caused me when my dad died, but I could tell that we both needed more time to heal if we were going to have a shot at a relationship again.
I sent her a Christmas card and a few photos of my boys, two of her great-grandchildren, and she called me again on my 32nd birthday a couple of weeks ago. We had a pleasant conversation, she told me that no matter what she will always love me and thinks of me and my family often. I told her the same and that when we spoke last year I mentioned coming for a visit, but it just never felt like the right time. I finally felt like it was the right time and I took my kids to my grandparents house just this past weekend for a reunion.
They finally got to meet Ethan, who has so many similar features to my dad, and that made my heart happy. Braden warmed right up to them and we had a wonderful visit. I see God working in our lives as He wipes away my tears, makes my mourning less, aids in the dissipation of my pain, and by reminding me keep the former things in the past. We serve a God who loves us so much that He gives us chance after chance after chance with new mercies every day.
I extended mercy and forgiveness to my grandma, who hurt me very much in the hardest moment of my life to date. I pray that others will embrace the gift of forgiveness and show some grace. Most people only change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. Sometimes we need to confront our issues and be bold to make a change. It is always my greatest hope that if anyone reading this is struggling with addiction that you see the pain that losing my dad to alcoholism has caused me and that you know that forgiveness is possible and it’s never too late to change. I know my dad would be happy today that on the 2nd anniversary of his passing that his parents got to meet two of his grandchildren and that is my tribute for you this year, Dad. I love you.