New Year’s Day has always been a strange day for me. It was a day I always tried to prepare for, but by the time the day arrived, I discovered I was not really prepared. Most years this simply meant no social plans to speak of.
The New Year’s of 1997 was the same, and yet dreadfully different. It is a day I feared would come, but I was in no way prepared for it. It is a day that will be forever ingrained in my memory, like a movie that keeps replaying itself.
I was a recent college graduate and had just started dating someone special. We had spent Christmas together and had plans to get together on New Year’s Day. I lived with my Dad at this time and he was struggling emotionally, physically, financially and mentally. Some of this was due to the fact that he and my Mom had just gotten a divorce.
After receiving bad advice from his therapist, spending Christmas by himself and the medicine altering his state of mind, he finally reached a point of no return.
It was early that New Year’s Day that I woke up and began getting ready to go out for the day. I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t right though. I tried to push the feeling down, but as I showered and dressed, a nervous feeling bubbled up in my stomach. I felt a strong need to check on my Dad before I left. If nothing else, I needed to make sure he was okay for my own piece of mind.
I walked down the hall and knocked on his door. I listened. Nothing. Something was wrong. Yet I couldn’t find the courage to face it right away. I put my hand on the doorknob and hesitated. What if he was okay and I was invading his privacy? I knocked again. Still nothing. I soon realized I was in denial and avoiding the inevitable.
My hand reached for the doorknob again and I gently turned it this time. What I saw wasn’t a surprise, but my worst nightmare come true. My Dad had given up on his life and took his fate into his own hands.
It was too much for me to handle. I was barely able to close the door. My hands had gone numb. Panic set in. I grabbed the phone and fumbled as I tried to make my fingers work well enough to dial. I was shaking terribly, but I managed to call out. After failing to reach several family members, I called my boyfriend. He rushed over and took control over the situation and I could not have been more thankful, (shortly after we were engaged and a year later we were married.)
At that time in my life, I was not close to God, however. I went through a whirlwind of feelings that included guilt, sorrow, remorse, anger, confusion and frustration. How could my Dad leave like this? And why this way, knowing I would be the one to find him? Moe importantly, what would his eternity look like?
It wasn’t until recently that I renewed my personal relationship with God and asked for forgiveness. I have also asked for His help in healing and letting go of the guilty feelings and the “what ifs.”
While I am closer to finding closure over my Dad’s death, New Year’s Day will never be the same. Suddenly, not having plans on New Year’s doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. Each year I am able to replace some of the memories of that awful day with the positive memories of joy and pride that my Dad and I experienced.
My Dad was a good man who fell on bad circumstances. I only wish he had looked to God for help getting through his situation, it could have had a very different ending.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 NIV
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