Saturday, December 19, 2009
It has been fifty-four years, but still this date is remembered as a day my life changed. My Father left home in the early morning, spoke a word as he was leaving, and was gone forever. It was in the early evening when the Air Force chaplain and some others came to tell my Mother he had been killed in a mid air collision with another plane earlier in the day. Those moments are etched so permanently in my mind that remembering makes it seem like yesterday. Life changed for my family and for the other families involved in that December tragedy. My own life has been, and in some ways, continues to be shaped by the loss of my Father at age seven.
At first there were more questions than there were answers. And while there are still some unanswered questions, they are no longer the consuming things they once were. I do know that the tragedy of the day caused me to look heavenward for the first time. Two years after my Father's death, I was baptized and my journey of faith began. It was something my Father started, too. It is good not to have any questions about that issue. He had never been a church go-er, but in the months before his death, he became aware of how God was seeking him and was making plans for his own baptism when death interrupted them. At first I thought the story of his plans for baptism were said by family to make me feel better, but then I found words written by a chaplain who knew him that spoke of his changed heart. I am grateful for those written words and even more grateful for the assurance of my Father's faith in Jesus.
I have wondered how my life might have turned out had the tragedy of that day been averted. Of course, there is no way to begin to imagine. I do know that God stayed with each of us through those days of darkness and still abides in our hearts today. I do know that the path may not have been the one anticipated, but He has surely been directing it all along. I have come to understand in recent years that this same thing was surely true for my Father who left this life when there was still so much life to live. For this I am also grateful.