Beyond Borders

courage. faith. action.

The Day My Daddy Died


I see the world in colors and song. I write of it often. But today. This day. As we begin the drive. All’s white. White so thick it’s smothering. The music. I know it’s there. The piano… the drums… I don’t hear them. My ears have fallen deaf.

The white it’s enveloping us now. It’s been just an hour since the call. An eternity could have passed and I would not have noticed. All sense of space and time is gone. I am just floating. Numb.

The white so luminous now, it’s blinding. There in the sky, in the midst of this white is one cloud. One. The most vibrant shade of pink. A pink so brilliant I have no words to describe. In that instant I knew.  I knew this drive, one taken many times. This time will be the last. I know this. It’s tearing me wide open. I feel him leaving. Going home. He is halfway there. My head is telling me not to believe it. He will pull through… he always pulls through. But my heart knows this time… this time is different.

The fog succumbing to the rising sun. The surroundings coming into focus. My senses returning and I hear the piano, the notes slowly plunked out key by key. Rhythmic. The words. They echo in my ear. You alone can rescue. You alone can save. You alone can lift us from the grave. You came down to find us. Let us out of death. The time is drawing near.

It’s not my life leaving. It’s his. Suddenly the images of my life. My life with him. They flood… digging up potatoes in the garden, bow hunting, snowmobiling, building houses, peanut butter on date nut bread, peanut butter and crackers at midnight watching war movies on a school night, peanut butter english muffins, Charlie pride, creature feature and dr. Paul Berra, Barry Mannilow and wood shavings piled high in the basement, standing under a tree in the rain, home fries and bananas with sugar, exploring the woods and collecting glass, daddy’s little girl and dancing on feet, making dinners from Betty Crocker, fishing from the shore, sunsets and sunburns, walking the mile back to the car in thunderstorms, opening presents at 5 am Christmas morning because he could not wait another minute, birthday banners and pink 10 speeds, the words “I am so very proud of you.”

We are here now. I think I would rather stay here. In this car. I don’t know how to say goodbye. I don’t know if he is ready. There is so much more I want to do. To say. I cannot say goodbye.

It will only take a miracle now. And I know He can do this. God. This miracle. Is it fair to ask Him? To even think it? My daddy. He has suffered long. For us. For me. I watched him stripped him of everything he was. Then I see him. He’s leaving. He’s going home.

Nearly three years ago he asked me to find three songs. He was adamant that I do not forget. He knew then. He was making the preparations. This Easter. Just six months ago. He gave each of us a cd. Told us to listen to them. These three songs. I knew the songs. The words. He was ready.

My dad was not a man of many words. He kept himself guarded. His feelings and emotions. But he was not leaving this earth without telling us, giving us what he always wanted to give. These songs tell the story. The lesson. The hope.

He did not want us to live in regret or bound by circumstance. Never to doubt our worth, the deserving of the love of God. Not to waste a single moment here.

 The lyrics of Johnny Cash
“Why me Lord, what have I ever done… to deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve known. Tell me, Lord, what did I ever do that was worth loving you or the kindness you’ve shown… Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so… Help me Jesus, I know what I am… Now that I know that I’ve needed you so help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.

He wanted us to know the truth. That God was. That God is. That God will always be. His promises are true.

The lyrics of Brooks and Dunn
“I raise my hands, bow my head. I am finding more and more truth in the words written in red. They tell me that there’s more to life that just what I can see. Oh. I believe.”

He wanted us to know the hope. Hope of a future. Hope of the freedom from the pain and struggles of this life. The burdens we carry. Hope in the knowing that He is now walking with Jesus.

The lyrics of Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton
“When I get where I’m going, there’ll be only happy tears. I will shed the sins and struggles, I have carried all these years. And I’ll leave my heart wide open, I will love and have no fear. Yeah, when I get where I’m going… don’t cry for me down here.”

Today I stand here as we celebrate the life of my daddy, the joy of him being finally home. I am overwhelmed with sadness. I miss him so much. I wear the customary black. It’s tradition. Etiquette. Black by definition is the complete absence of light, darkness. It represents finality. Sadness. The end. I wear it for my sadness.

But that day. His last day. I was given a gift. The one solitary pink cloud floating in the luminous white. Pink. The universal color of love. A symbol of hope. The embodiment of perfection of something. A single pink carnation says, “I will not forget you.” That cloud. Symbolic. Of my daddy’s love for me. The father’s love for me and my dad. The perfecting of my dad’s soul as he passed from this life into glory.

This scarf. It may offend some. It breaks tradition. But this pink. The pink in the cloud. The gift of his love. And God’s love.. The hope of a future spent in eternity. The knowing that my dad is walking in a new body. Waiting for us to join him. I wear it for him.

I love you daddy. Always.

Author: Shelly Richardson

A stay at home mom, married to my best friend, who loves like Jesus. Together we have four beautiful daughters. One biological, one adopted and two by way of marriage. Our 12 year old daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome when she was 6 years old and our youngest was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old. I have dealt with chronic illness most of my life and at times has been debilitating. It is through this illness and the special needs of our children that drew us closer to God. Beyond Borders is the place where I write out my story of living beyond my borders. A place to share of God’s love and grace, His mercy and sovereignty, and what that looks like in my own little world of chronic illness and autism. A place where courage and faith intersect and He moves me to action. My hope in writing is that you find something that inspires you. Encourages you. Makes you smile.

7 thoughts on “The Day My Daddy Died

  1. Your writing is very visual and I hope it has given you an outlet for your pain. My prayers are with you and share your grief…my mom passed away recently. Praise God for the hope He gives that we can know this life is not all there is. Great imagry, and a powerful blog.

  2. I LOVE how you express yourself, Shelly. This was very moving. ❤

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