Tag Archives: Memorial Day

Remembering Memorial Day

The topic for the Friday KMBZ Shanin & Parks Show focused on Memorial Day.  They were asking if Americans just thought of it as a holiday away from work and a time to relax and have fun, grill out and camp or if Americans really took time out to remember.  I called in and was the first caller on the subject.

I explained that I was just another person who took a holiday off and didn’t think too much about the meaning.  But that changed on Memorial Day 2005.  I was camping with my family in the back yard of a friend’s house when my father called.  He told me he was on his way to my house and that he should be in town later in the week.  We were all looking very forward to spending time together.  Later that evening I received a phone call from my aunt-she was traveling with my father, they were both recent retirees.  My father was feeling ill and laid down and never awoke.  He had a heart attack.  My father’s passing changed my personal outlook of Memorial Day.  I also went on to explain how blogging has been a great emotional outlet for me; I have blogged about my father’s passing and also about losing a set of fraternal twins to a miscarriage.

They (Shanin & Parks) were very kind to let me go first and let me speak without interruption.  It was a good call.

So on Memorial Day I take time out to remember.  To remember my father most of all.  But to remember those that have passed away-not just military veterans, but friend, family, etc.

I hope your Memorial Day was relaxing, but I also hope you spent time reflecting.

-Derin-

Memorial Day 2007

Memorial Day holds unique significance to me because my father passed away on Memorial Day in 2005. He gave me life and loved me. And I miss him much.

In honor of Memorial Day I thought I’d post my thoughts from a few years ago.

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I embarrassingly bought the pregnancy test. I read the positive results by email. Minnie was pregnant again! I tried not to tell anyone; that lasted about 5 minutes. When the doctor’s found two heartbeats for the first time I was elated. I thought “Twins again?! No problem!”

Minnie’s first pregnancy with our identical twin boys was full of potential complications: Bed rest in the hospital, delivering early admitted to the NICU. But in the end they turned out perfect. They are handfuls and ornery, but they are our pride and joy.

We thought that the next pregnancy would be a breeze, we thought, “How easy it will be to have only one child?” Minnie’s next two pregnancies ended tragically in miscarriages. The first hit us very hard; we tried to gain closure by having a memorial service. The second seemed easier.

I don’t know if it was the novelty of having twins again, that fact that Minnie and I were in a good place to plan for more kids, or just that Minnie and I were going to have babies in the house again. Whatever the reasons I really wanted these babies.

I prayed so hard as the doctor’s searched for the heartbeats again a few days later. “Please God, Please God…” Smaller babies. No heartbeats. Our babies died. Another miscarriage.

Minnie found comfort from friends. She found comfort in the Bible. She found comfort through songs.

For me, there are questions: Where is God?

I thought He was there with Kaleb & Keegan. I thought I saw his work. Does he give us gifts just to turn around and take them away? Was this really His will? What kind of God is that?

Where was God? Is He a God who put things in motion in the beginning and now just sits back? Where is the personal God I’ve grown up with? Is this really for the best? Will good come out of it? I don’t want “good,” I want the babies.

And I’m mad. I’m mad at God for not stepping into my life, and I’m mad that I am close enough to Him to get mad at Him. Maybe if I distance myself from him, He can’t hurt me; He can’t anger me…and I won’t hurt Him by getting mad at Him.

Then I am reminded of Jesus, who was fully man and fully God.

I’m reminded that Jesus prayed hard, he asked for the cup to be taken away. It wasn’t. I’m reminded that Jesus asked questions: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God didn’t forsake him. I’m reminded that Jesus grieved: “Jesus wept.”

In the end there are no answers. In the end it is just Jesus and me, pondering, asking, expecting answers. It is Jesus and me grieving. But the best part is is that it is Jesus and me.
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“I really Wanted these babies” Written February 8th 2002 and read in worship at Christ Community Church shortly after. Thanks Pastor Dave for encouraging me to reflect and write.

Since this writing God has blessed my wife and I with 2 more healthy boys, Calvin Wesley and Corbin Riley, they join twins, Kaleb Nathaniel & Keegan Daniel.

-Durk-

It’s Been Over A Year

It has been just over a year since I lost my dad. I was reminded about it just yesterday-a friend asked me how I was getting along since my dad’s passing-I told him that it was a year ago on Memorial Day. A whole year. The year where you experience all of “the firsts”. The first birthdays without dad/grandpa, first his birthday, then mine, then my wife, then my boys. The first holidays without a visit or a phone call-Independence Day, Labor Day weekend, Halloween (Dad would have liked the boys’ costumes and our Hallow Haunt business), Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, etc. We purchased a white mini van. Then there was the birth of Corbin Riley. Dad didn’t even know Minnie was pregnant. Corbin was baptized on Easter Sunday. And finally Memorial Day was here and gone. It has been over a year. And I have to say that it has been a…well, an awkward experience for me.

As most of my friends know (and some acquaintances), I am a pretty emotional guy. I cried when my kids were born (yes, all 4). I cry at movies and TV shows; I cry every time I watch that “Extreme Makover: House Edition”. I cry as I worship God. But I have not “emotionally” mourned my dad’s passing-I haven’t cried.

I can’t really tell you why I haven’t cried, why there is the absent of some emotional moment where I come to grips with the powers of the cosmos and the rhythm of life. But I know this: I loved my dad very much and I miss him very much.

My dad and I had a pretty close relationship. We got along great, always did. I loved to hear his stories. I think my dad was proud of me and loved my family. And I miss him. There’s hardly a day that goes by where I don’t have something reminding me that dad isn’t around anymore. Something to fix around the house, something to look at with the car, a family milestone to share, pictures to email, and the list goes on and on.

There was no funeral, no viewing, no ceremony, no memorial service, no gathering to just talk! And that is the way my dad wanted it, he wanted to be cremated and that’s it-no dwelling on the painful passing, just remembering the good times. And that’s what happened. There was a road trip-all the way to New Mexico to meet up with my Aunt (who dad was traveling with-they both had retired less than a year before his passing). Although it was a somber trip, for me anyway there was no journey involved, no formal opportunity to feel the pain and to process things. I say “for me” because I remember my wife and twins talking and crying. I just drove in silence. Not really thinking, not really processing. So I have had to find other ways to process life without dad.

I saw a counselor shortly afterwards. It helped. One of the big questions that he posed to me was did I feel that my father was proud of me. Although I had to think about it, I had to say yes. Yeah, dad was proud of me.

In some ways I have done better than my dad. He was a 6th-grade drop out and I completed college. He had had 2 marriages and I have worked pretty hard to build a happy marriage and to form a family. I have a good job. I have a good life. Dad was happy for me. He told me many times that he loved me. He would hug and kiss me and my family-he adored my children.

My dad was not a professing Christian-he did not claim to have a relationship with Christ and with God. That is also a source of pain. I have never looked to my dad as a source of spiritual guidance or direction. Now I know that my father could have had some sort of death-bed experience-he was not feeling well, had lain down and then had a heart attack that took his life-almost immediately. Maybe in his sleep. Maybe not. He did not seem to greatly suffer. I am thankful for that.

It would be comforting to know that my father had had a spiritual experience before he died. It would be immensely comforting to know that I would see my father again in the next life. But I can’t really hold onto that kind of hope. I know that was not true of the way my dad lived his life and I just don’t know that to be true in his passing. And that makes it more difficult to process; as far as I know, my dad really is gone. Most likely I’ll never see him again. And that is probably the most painful part of all.

It has been a year. Still no tears. Still no explanations as to why there have been no tears. I still miss my dad. But I am continuing to process things. Even with this writing.

-Durk-