If you grew up in a Christian household, as I did, attending church every time the doors were opened, you heard a LOT about the “Streets of gold”. Pastors would preach about it, at funerals people talked about how the loved one who had passed away were now walking down “streets of gold”, and so on. As is often the case, when you hear about something over and over again, it tends to lose its “flavor” or penetration. Admittedly, I let comments about heaven, God, and all things spiritual, roll off my back more times than I should, simply because I’ve heard them my entire life.
However, today I find myself thinking about those gold streets.
It was twelve years ago today, around noon EST that my precious dad, and the closest thing to “perfect” I’ve ever known, saw those gold streets for the first time.
Living in Nashville, away from him, I didn’t get tons of time together, those last few months of his life. I still had work, and even though I pretty much left work each Friday, from January, 2010 until he died, and drove to NC where I spent every weekend, I still only had those couple of weekend days with him, before I had to drive back and be at work the next week.
My mom and sister had a lot of quality time with him after his diagnosis, and during his last few months, and I find myself wishing I had it to do over again.
I’d have said “forget everything and everyone except Dad. I’m with him and I’m not leaving until he does”.
No one ever says, after someone close to them dies, “I wish I had worked more”. No, they always wish for more time, and I am no different.
The Lord did bless me by giving me the very last morning with dad, uninterrupted. It was the ONE AND ONLY DAY since his diagnosis where our front door didn’t constantly open and close, with a steady trail of visitors.
God knew dad didn’t have much time left, and he gave me one last special memory on that morning of May 13, 2010. I woke up and told Mom to get some rest. She had been going non-stop, since dad’s diagnosis in early January. She barely left his side, and was exhausted. She went to their bedroom, closed the door, and took a nap. My sister had to babysit that morning, but promised to be home around noon. So, I sat by my dad’s bed, which was set up in the dining room of their house, and talked to him, held his hand, journaled, cried, prayed for some sort of heavenly healing.
Little did I know God was about to heal him in the most heavenly way, possible.
I started noticing Dad’s breathing changed and became more shallow, and woke Mom. We were a little nervous, and called our family friend and Doctor, Mark, who was making a house call about 30 minutes away and told him about Dad. He immediately said he’d come straight to mom and dad’s house when he finished with the other appointment. We called my sister, who was on her way home anyway, and then we waited.
I begged Dad to hold on and not let go, telling him I wouldn’t know what to do without him, but he kept his eyes closed. Shortly before noon, my sister got home and came straight to dad’s bed. We told dad she was home and to say hi. He slowly opened his eyes, slowly looked at me, my sister, and lastly, my mom. Then he closed his eyes, lifted his arm as if to shield his eyes from the “SONlight”, and took his last breath. It was the most peaceful passing I could possibly imagine.
Those couple hours I had with my dad, on the morning of Thursday, May 13, 2010 will forever be emblazoned on my heart. And, wouldn’t it be just like God, that while I sit here typing this blog entry, I have my iTunes playlist playing on “random”, and what is the first song that comes on, just as I begin this blog? “Streets of Gold” by Need to Breathe.
After a few others, what song comes on just as I’m finishing up? “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. Talk about Divine Appointment. My dad had a divine appointment that day, twelve years ago, and even though he ran late to almost everything he did during his life, he wasn’t a second late for the appointment he had with his Saviour, that day. I am certain our Lord greeted my dad with open arms, escorted him through the pearly gates, and said “Well done, my good and faithful servant…” I can’t think of anyone who had a closer walk with his Saviour. My dad exemplified what a Christian leader should be, every day of his life, and I strive daily to be more like my heavenly father, but also, my earthly father. I hope they both greet me, when it is my time to die, with a “well done”. I can’t wait to see those gold streets…
I love you, dad, and know you are having the time of your life telling Grandma B “mother-in-law” jokes, looking for a golf course with Uncle Chip, cousin David, and Grandpa B, and helping Grandma M and Papa M with things around their mansion. I know they’re calling you for help! Most of all, I know you are enjoying finally having father/son bonding time with Jeremy. I can’t wait to join you. I love you, and miss you, everyday.