Somehow February 21 comes every year.

Somehow February 21 comes every year. It always sneaks up on me.  My mother died April 9th, yet that day comes and goes with an acknowledgment but not much else. I suspect February 21 is more significant as I’ve been very aware of it for 52 years.

It is the day my father died in Vietnam. The day he paid the ultimate sacrifice as they say. As with every February 21, I woke up blogging in my head. Thinking about my father, who he was, what he stood for. Flashes of patriotism coursing through my veins.

Unexpectantly, I now sit bedside in a hospital room. Outside the window are trees that even in California have dropped their leaves for winter. It is a surreal feeling as only 16 months ago, I sat in this same hospital, same wing, listening to the same whirl of machines and even the same hospital staff hustling up and down the halls.

16 months ago, I watched and waited for my mentor, my advisor and my friend to die. He was a Marine, a man’s man and a man after God’s own heart. He was the type of man that I hope my father would have been, if he had been granted a longer life.

When my friend died, I could physically feel my heart break. The break remains. And now I sit at his wife’s bedside – “his girlfriend” who he had been married to for 44 years. Watching, waiting as she loses her battle. She is my friend, my confidant and my sister in Christ. Cancer is an insidious disease.

It is so difficult standing by as someone leaves this world. At a point, everything in this world is shut out and it becomes such a personal and private journey between them and God. I’ve come to believe that to bear witness to a loved one’s death is an extraordinary gift, an honor. There is such incredible intimacy between them and God, and it reminds us that this world is only temporary. This life we struggle with, fight over, and hang onto is just a blink of an eye in eternity.

Recognizing the God piece doesn’t by any means lessen the pain and anguish of losing someone you hold dear.  I often remember my mother telling me as an adult, how she wanted nothing more than to follow my father into death. She made the choice to stay and raise my sister and me.  She stayed 30 years, but her heart had broken and never quite repaired. Maybe that was the ultimate sacrifice.

Should you go first and I remain,
To walk the road alone,
I’ll live in memory’s garden, dear,
With happy days we’ve known.
In Spring I’ll wait for roses red,
When fades the lilac blue,
In early Fall when brown leaves call
I’ll catch a glimpse of you.

Should you go first and I remain,
For battles to be fought,
Each thing you’ve touched along the way
Will be a hallowed spot.
I’ll hear your voice, I’ll see your smile,
Though blindly I may grope,
The memory of your helping hand
Will buoy me on with hope.

Should you go first and I remain,
To finish with the scroll,
No length ‘ning shadows shall creep in
To make this life seem droll.
We’ve known so much of happiness,
We’ve had our cup of joy,
And memory is one gift of God
That death cannot destroy.

Should you go first and I remain,
One thing I’d have you do:
Walk slowly down that long, lone path,
For soon I’ll follow you.
I’ll want to know each step you take
That I may walk the same,
For some day down that lonely road
You’ll hear me call your name.

[Should You Go First” by Albert Kennedy “Rosey” Rowswell]

When I write, it is my time to talk to God. It’s how I process, how I express, how I absorb the world around me. I never really know if my meanderings are helpful to the reader, but I sometimes think when you know someone else is going through or seeing things in the same way you are, it can help. I hope it does.

One thought on “Somehow February 21 comes every year.

  1. Jean Paradiso

    Thank you for sharing. It does help. Love and Hugs, Jean P.

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