Sometimes a trip to the grocery store is just a trip to the grocery store. But sometimes it is so much more…
About two months had passed since my father’s funeral. I should have been at the point where I wasn’t constantly on the verge of tears. But I wasn’t.
I should have managed a smile every now and then. But I couldn’t.
And to top it all off, a well-meaning woman with whom I was barely acquainted stopped me in the grocery store parking lot and offered her condolences on the death of my UNCLE! I had to shakily correct her and tell her it was my father we had buried, not my uncle. Her heartfelt condolence abruptly changed into a murmured apology and a lightning-speed dash to her car.
I had been praying to God for those two months that He would send me some measure of comfort, some assurance to bolster my faith and cement what I had always known to be true about life after death but was now seeming somewhat weak.
I had continued into the grocery store, eager to beat the 5:00 crowd and get home to put my version of dinner (Stouffer’s) on the table. I froze in my tracks and took a startled breath as I saw a man in the produce aisle who, from behind, looked just like my father. And yes, I was “sore afraid.” (Weren’t there supposed to be angels who came at this point to tell me, “Fear not”?)
As my fear slowly subsided, I found myself walking toward the man, the word “Daddy?” About to leave my lips. Then the man put Brussels sprouts in in his buggy and I was jolted back to reality.. Daddy would never have bought Brussels sprouts!
Still, I couldn’t help but follow the man through the store. I knew the man could not be my father, but he seemed so …fatherly. The resemblance was uncanny, or maybe my desire to see my father walking and talking and shopping made the likeness more real than it was. I didn’t. Care. I wanted to be on this man’s heels a while longer. He turned around, spoke to someone, laughed with the person, and then I knew. I cannot explain it. A feeling came over me that said, “This isn’t the end. What you’ve known all along you still know. There is still life. There is still laughter. There will always be life and laughter.”
Of course the stranger wasn’t my daddy. Ad he wasn’t just a vision. But my daddy was happy. My daddy was all right. I would see my daddy again and we would laugh together like we had so many times before. I am no theologian, but I have enough knowledge to know that right now, my daddy doesn’t have a body like he had, or like the man in the grocery store had on that day. But that makes him no less alive. That makes him no less happy. He is haappyier, having the conversations with jesus that I long to have someday. And if I could beg Daddy to come back, I know. What he would say. He would kindly but emphatically say, “No, I don’t want to. And you wouldn’t want me to if you knew what I know. But I’ll be here when you get here, and you will love it as much as I do.”
And because Jesus, and jesus only, is now and forever the Resurrection and the Life, Daddy’s new, perfect “never-going-to-have-heart-problems-again” body will someday be joined with his soul that is very much alive right now. And maybe-just maybe-he’ll like Brussels sprouts then!
Dear Heavenly Father,
We have come through this season of lent with a range of emotions, but we have emerged exhilarated and victorious because of your love for us – a love which manifested itself in the sacrifice of your Son, our Savior. We know there are no truer, more defining, more comforting words than “I am the resurrection and the Life.” Thank you that through Easter you have done for us what we could never have done for ourselves. Thank you that the words of Jesus are true, and that we can look forward to that day when we are reunited with our loved ones and most importantly will fellowship with Christ through eternity. Amen.