It had been several hours since my dad had been conscious. As I sat by his bedside, I knew the hour was near that his heart would stop beating, and he soon would leave this earthly life to begin a new one. And I wept.
As a child, I spent countless nights lying next to my dad as I would fall asleep.
Most nights he would come into my room to rub my back and listen to my heart. I would share my questions and ramblings. And he would listen. He wasn’t a man of many words, but when he spoke he somehow always spoke straight to my heart. He would respond to my thoughts with wisdom and truth.
I felt secure with my dad.
He taught me what it meant to live a life of integrity, and to the best of his ability reminded me of my goodness and beauty. I would have given anything at that moment, sitting next to my dying father, to have him speak wisdom and truth over me, to infuse his knowledge into me about how to navigate living in a world without his physical presence. And so, again, I wept.
Then, without even thinking I laid my head on my dad’s chest and listened to his heartbeat. I listened to his heartbeat, and with each beat, I was reminded of all the many words he spoke to me over the past 37 years.
You are strong. I delight in you. I am proud of you. Be kind to others. Always try your best.
As I reflected on all his wisdom, I drifted off to sleep resting once again in the security of my father’s love.
My dad would die less than twenty-four hours later. In the weeks that followed I had what can best be described as an identity earthquake as I questioned who I was without a father on earth. I was completely disoriented and trying to navigate sorrow and daily life, and I was drowning.
I was drowning until I heard Jesus speak to my heart, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
In that moment I knew where I needed to flee. I needed to run into the arms of my heavenly Father and rest my weary head on His sacred heart burning with love for me, just as I had laid my head on my earthly father’s chest to find refreshment and encouragement, and find my identity.
I now must lay my head on the heart of my Heavenly Father.
It is in his Sacred Heart that I can find my rest, healing, and restoration. It is in His Sacred Heart that I am taught my identity as a daughter of a King. As I daily rest in the heart of God, I am consumed with His everlasting love. It is a love that burns away my imperfections while simultaneously bringing me to wholeness.
It is a love that casts out all my fear and restores my hope.
It is a love that leads me to still waters and reminds me that at Baptism I was marked a child of a mighty God. It is a love that reminds me that I am beloved, chosen, cherished, and seen. In this place of rest and restoration, I am overwhelmed with awe, majesty, love, and gratitude. Here I remember who I am amidst the storm of grief. I am not alone. I am His. I am reminded that even in my brokenness and confusion I am loved by God, and I can share that love with others.
While I may no longer be able to hear my dad speak words of truth and identity over me, I am forever grateful that I have a heavenly Father who allows me to rest on His heart.
He allows me to listen to the voice of truth and know I am forever completely and radically loved by Him. This truth will never disappear. I am a daddy’s girl at heart, and I look forward to the day when I can be united with my dad once again. On that day, we together, with the entire communion of saints, can give all glory and honor to our shared Father in Heaven.