“Being Saved Didn’t Save Me” is a series detailing real accounts of faith-at-a-crossroads moments by people of all walks of life.
“Pound, your Dad is gone.”
I’d rehearsed that call in my head for years, trying to prepare myself for the inevitable.
I knew my Dad would not be with me always, he’d told me as much for many years. Yet, it was still no easier to receive that call at 7:46 PM on January 5, 2016. If I am to be transparent, being saved (as defined by religious conversion in Christianity) didn’t serve as much of a buffer to human emotion. The experience of losing a parent is perhaps one of our greatest human emotions.
My father, Rev. Danny Sr., had been sick for as long as I could remember. A diabetic since the age of 9, I witnessed firsthand throughout my life the havoc that this disease wreaks on the body. He had his first major health crisis, a stroke, when I was 9. The stroke would be followed by amputations, starting with one toe and eventually a below-the-knee amputation, legal blindness, quadruple bypass, and eventually dialysis dependence for renal failure. Despite all of these serious illnesses, my Daddy could (and often did) become the life and light of any room he entered. The night God decided to extinguish his light in this life forever brought me to a serious crisis of faith.
It was like any ordinary day.
When I received the call that my father was being rushed to the emergency room, I geared myself up for the routine—because after so many crises, trips to the hospital were par for the course. I got dressed, emboldened with confidence that I would be going to the hospital to see Daddy in recovery. As I slipped into my hoodie to head out of the door my mind asked, “Do you remember what your Dad wants for his funeral?” A question I quickly answered and dismissed, failing to see it as a foreshadowing of events. I was saved, after all. I believed in the matchless healing power of God and death is not an option.
After 45 minutes of attempts at stabilizing him, my Dad was pronounced at 7:44 PM at 47 years old. I wish I could tell you that I was there as he slipped from this life to the next but, I live in Atlanta. Where was I? In freaking traffic. I’d been robbed of the opportunity to see my Dad draw his last breath because of an idiotic, inane traffic block.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. We had plans.
My mind slipped from the autopilot of the routine into the chaos of sudden loss. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Despite the fact that Dad told me he wouldn’t live to be an old man, I just knew he had some more years to remain to beat the odds. Despite the fact that he’d been on dialysis for years, I just knew the kidney would come. Being saved had failed to save me or my Dad.
We had plans. I’d just talked to my Dad the day before at noon. We made plans to go to Dillard’s before driving down to Macon on Friday to support his best friend and fellow pastor on the loss of his mother. We had plans. He was supposed to walk me down the aisle, he’d been going to therapy to learn to use his prosthetic to walk again. He was supposed to be here to see the birth of his grandchildren. He was supposed to be here to celebrate his 50th birthday. He was supposed to be here, period. I felt completely robbed—by none other than the same God to whom I contributed my salvation. Despite always being in my life, Daddy and I didn’t become extraordinarily close until the last 8 years of his life. He’d become my best friend and I’d become his prized confidant and therapist. Then, without warning, God snatched him from me. Just as we were becoming what a father and daughter should be, God decided that Dad’s number was up.
When sudden chaos turns to anger
Being saved didn’t save me from the seething anger with God at this seeming injustice of losing a parent. It didn’t save me from being blind to my own selfishness in wanting my Dad to be here with me, regardless to what the future held. Being saved didn’t stop the enormous eye rolls for people who offered me their condolences tinged with “God knows best.” I know the scriptures. I know all about the perfecting will of God. I know He has the final say so. What seems to be less understood is that being saved is not a shield from humanity. I needed room to be a daughter while people just seemingly only wanted me to be the perfect example of “His strength made perfect in weakness.”
Faith ultimately helps me in my daily healing from loss. I tell people that Daddy’s death was his healing, something that I do believe, but it feels as if I’m convincing myself as much as I’m convincing others. My faith has kept me from thoughts of suicide, but it hasn’t shielded me from the outbursts of tears. Especially on a day like today.
Today would have been his 48th birthday.
It is the third major life event, my birthday on June 1 and Father’s Day, that I’ll acknowledge in his absence.
Instead of calling him to tell him I’m on the way for dinner, I’ll instead be listening to some of his favorite songs and doing all that I can to fight the tears that seem to flow without warning or end. I’ll look at his pictures that rest on the wall of my bedroom and think fondly of how he insisted on family pictures because he wanted to be sure I could always show his future grandchildren their lineage. The tears will begin all over again as I struggle with how I’ll ever be able to convey the love he had for the children he will never meet.
I’ll remember my father’s words that “God is real, Pup,” as I struggle to cleave to the faith that both saved and failed me. Being saved grounds my faith in the hope of seeing Daddy again on the other side of Jordan, but it hasn’t closed the gaping void that is Dad’s absence.