Some memories warm me and so I let them. Like when the sunlight would dance on the water when I was a kid. Those summers were my happiest, feeling the heat on my skin and the fast wind in my hair matted from lake water. My legs would be so tired from water skiing and somehow I loved the ache that made me know I had nothing but wild fun that day.
I was good at it because Daddy taught me how. It was a process, but I’m such a determined person that I knew if I just held on tight enough and did what he said, eventually I would be gliding across the water. Holding on until my skinny legs couldn’t take it anymore and my arms felt like jelly, I would let go and put my hands in the air as high as they could go and melt into the sweet summertime kicking off my skis.
The first time I fell I hit hard, choking on lake water and wondering where my skis went. I never worried about the distance between the boat and me because he was watching, someone was always watching, and the flag would go up to let the other boaters know I was in the water. And then he would circle the boat around to get me.
Fall after fall, it happened like clockwork and it didn’t matter how much it hurt, help was on the way. He would circle that boat around and pull me back in every time. And this feisty girl always wanted to try again.
Over the years things would get harder, life would change, his daughters would marry and move away, babies were lost, babies were born. Life happened changing hair shades of silver and he would cover it up until he grew into his grey. I liked his hair that way. In many ways we were still circling our boat around to pick each other up. Every time. Through rights and wrongs and fights and making up, love made circles of grace around us never leaving us stranded in water that was too deep.
We never stopped making circles around each other, not ever. This was unchangeable, love doesn’t walk away it just swings back by to make sure you have a big rope pulling you back in. And sometimes the rope isn’t long enough, but you keep extending it anyway. Grace and mercy come without expiration dates; in many ways grace is one vast circle without a beginning or ending.
I have so many memories and I’m thankful for being loved that much.
I’m glad that Daddy taught me a few self-defense moves when I was young just in case those grade school boys kept messing with me. And even to this day, I think that I could give that fool a big enough bruise to make him regret he had ever messed with me. Somehow he made me feel strong enough to pummel a kid twice my size.
The circling has stopped and saying goodbye looks much like a large body of water that I’m not quite sure if I’m supposed to glide across it or sink into it. Perhaps both. When it gets hard, and it does, I remember my Abba who loved his circling wanderers who wasted forty years in a desert complaining. I pray and ask God to help me circle the right things and the right path.
I’m certain that God is circling around to rescue me in my sinking and sadness while dealing with the loss of my father. His grace makes wide circles and each part of my frail heart is surrounded by a love that doesn’t stop.
Maybe I’ll write more about this, maybe I won’t because there are certain pieces of me that are too sacred to end up on a page. But, every piece of me is whole and free because love made big circles around me all of my life.
I couldn’t fix the broken things inside of him, no one could, but we circled our boats around him and loved him. And in the end, that is enough because that’s what love does. It doesn’t leave you stranded.
I thought I had more time, but I was wrong.
His body is at rest now, no more pain from a worn-out heart and body. He looked like peace when I said goodbye and as hard as it was to leave that room where he rested, nothing was left undone.
One last time I said, “Goodbye, Daddy.”
Circle the ones you love in prayer and use all your best words, swallow your worst ones. Say, “I love you,” every time you think it and just once more to make sure they didn’t forget. Circle with arms that embrace and grace that covers what time can’t erase, love even when it’s work and keep making those big, wide circles.
This is what loves does, it circles because love never leaves you stranded.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:8)
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