In Your Wake

One of my husband’s earliest memories is the day you left your family. Left them to poverty and shame, to insecurity and a weight of bitterness while you transferred the care due them to a new family.

You fed your sin silently. Secretly. It crept around the edges of your life, gradually stealing more and more ground from under your second family until you left them too.

Left them to despair and struggle while you fed your pleasures.

But life is never black and white, and people are always a mixture of bad and good. Perhaps it would have been easier if you were all bad. They could have let you go then. But you were also a good dad. Kind, caring and fun. There were camping trips and barbeques, phone calls and help with projects. You could have been the man you pretended to be.

But you weren’t.

Your life was a gradual circling of the drain, and along the way you lost your children. Or rather, exchanged them for ever uglier pursuits. At the end, you were alone, tied to a walker and oxygen tank, and approaching another prison term. In the end, only a few of your children would speak to you, and just barely.

Now you are gone, and they are left to clean up the mess. Left to wonder how to mourn you. Left to continue to medicate and compensate and deal with the damage you did in pursuit of the darkness. Left to reconcile memories of the loving father and the selfish man.

You knew about Jesus. About the power of His death to forgive and rescue. About the power of His resurrection to change and heal. You could have turned to the light. Your son shared that hope with you yet again, just a few months ago. You listened politely. Said you were fine.

But you weren’t.

I watch your wounded children and marvel at the power parents hold over their children. How sins and selfish choices are magnified in the lives of the ones forced to cope while holding love in one hand and disgust in the other.

And just like you, they have choices. Choices to allow the Father-love of God to heal the wounds you inflicted. Choices to allow the peace of forgiveness to purge the dark draw of bitterness. Choices to forge a path of love and grace through the rubble you left behind. I’m incredibly proud of my husband for choosing the good path, hard though it has been.

Now you have left your families for the last time. There will be no obituary. No funeral. Just a small space for your ashes when the cold ground thaws in the little cemetery on the hill.

And in your wake, the people who loved you once, and who tried to love you later, will go on with their lives, mourning who you could have–should have–been.

But you weren’t.

The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.

Proverbs 11:6

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10 thoughts on “In Your Wake

  1. Andrea, so sad, and so much like my experience with my own father (except he didn’t live a life of official crime-but domestic violence and alcoholism.( I was terrified of him as a child, and had to place strong boundaries as to when I could see him as an adult. He is now in a nursing home with dementia. I am on my way to see him next week, and will try again to share the grace of God through the gospel with him. I appreciate your reminder that we are all responsible for our choices. My dad grew up in a Christian home, and I was surprised to learn that as a young adult.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll pray for you, Linn. Thank you for sharing that with me. How beautiful it is when the Holy Spirit so changes us that we become willing to care about the ones who have wounded us. God bless you.


  2. I will be praying for the family. I have an older brother a lot like your father-in-law, although he has gotten better he still has a terrible past and a lot of life problems from his choices, (including prison time.).

    Your husband turned out unbelievably well by the grace of God, and by the love of a wife, who has done him good not harm all the days of his life…he has had ‘no lack of gain’ because of his godly wife.

    I am praying that at the very end, your husband’s father did accept Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. Your husband definitely planted those seeds, and even if it was brought to fruition at the very very end, “the last will be first.” Matthew 20:16

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Agree with Jill – beautifully written. I don’t know if the photograph at the top is just a stock photo or not, but it is “worth a thousand words”, the naive optimism of the mom, the utter vulnerability of the young boy, the smiling but withdrawn/preoccupied look on the dad’s face. There’s a lot of truth in your article and in the picture as well. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. God can redeem the time, if not here and now or in distant future via perspective and transformation. It start with forgiveness, always with forgiveness. To forgive someone is strikely Godward but also Christ-like. Hard truth and love.

    Liked by 1 person

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