The Day We Never Say Goodbye

IMG_20191112_0001Death seems to freeze time. I know it doesn’t because I went to work today. I see David’s grave mound with all the flowers on it in my mind’s eye, yet it still seems surreal. We’ve been saying goodbye for over a week, but in all actuality we’ve been saying goodbye for much longer than that. The last breath is still paralyzing.

David was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2013. He fought hard to see remission, yet the damage to his immune system had been done, and the bacterial meningitis he contracted from the soil in this “it city” did him in. In June he left home for the hospital never to return. There were glimmers of hope here and there, but when his colon collapsed after surgery to open it up Alive Hospice was the next stop before the end.

Alive Hospice on Patterson is an amazing place of spiritual healing where we gathered around David to say goodbye. I cannot say enough about the doctors, nurses and volunteers who made the worst thing a family experiences “bearable.” I watched my wife and daughter grieve the exit of their Pops and Bop in a sea of tears that Adam and Eve gifted us. Death is never a welcomed experience. It stands in opposition to the eternity that is set in our hearts. When God created men and women His idea of death was never to bring it about. Why Satan felt obliged to usher it in is a mystery, but evil has always existed since the beginning of time. I can only assume Satan convinced Eve and Adam that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil looked more appetizing than the Tree of Life. I’m sure if we interviewed Eve she’d tell us hindsight is 20/20.

I have no regrets in my relationship with David. I know I let him down, but as a man who invested in me to become a better man I have no doubt. There were many men at the visitation and funeral who could say the same thing, and every last one of us are better men for having known David. He was a man’s man. He made you feel like you were important. He listened to you, and he did not demand you do things the way he wanted you to do them. He let you come to the right decision because he knew God was at work in your mind and heart. He could lecture if he wanted to because he was that smart, but so many times we’d sit in the den and not say a word while we watched UT football or the Cubs get beat. We also had deep meaningful conversations that centered around the LORD Jesus Christ and frustrations we had with church life. He never gave up on the church, and his death was a peaceful expression of thanks to the presence of the Father through the church.

I will never forget David Earheart. Yes he was my father-in-law, but that paltry title I hate using because titles piss me off. Jesus was called Rabbi, but He sure didn’t demand people call Him that. He reclined at table with anyone who invited Him in. David did the same thing. The way he loved our Chloe I will miss till I take my last breath, and just as surely as I type these words through tears I know I will see my David again. I will visit his grave over and over in Auburntown because he gave me so much more than a youth pastor job. He gave me healing from depression. He gave me the most beautiful woman to be my bride, and his absence isn’t really absent because the example and memory that is seared in my mind will forever be a powerful testimony to the perfection of my Abba Father.

Today is Chloe’s birthday, but obviously it’s being overshadowed by David’s passing. I still went to Katy’s Hallmark to get her a birthday gift because that’s what David would have done. He was an incredible gift giver. His wife Barbara’s love language is gifts, and he nurtured that in her. The way Barbara has displayed her strength through all of this is amazing, and she inspires me to no end in the private conversations we’ve had and the public way she has given others hope in the passing of her husband of 47 years.

I know Yahweh is not ignorant of the pain we fill, and He knows the pain we will continue to suffer. Thanksgiving, Christmas, David’s 70th birthday on January 24, the Super Bowl, the start of MLB season and David Ross as the new manager of the Cubs, the start of college football season and the year marking his passing will be very hard. I’m under no allusions that we will cry again and again. David died the way he lived. He worked long and hard to fight that cancer, and even in the hospital when he left for Hospice every single nurse on his floor stopped by to say goodbye. If that doesn’t move you check for a pulse.

David’s life touched mine deeply. His outreach will be felt for eternity. He looked out for the underdog, and as has been so eloquently said many times this week his prayer journals were epic. He challenged me many times to pray for those who I struggled with loving. He’d joke about the Godfather, but when push came to shove he showed me that the love of Christ is more powerful than revenge. Injustice angered our David, but he refused to let it control him. His gentle and kind ways with Carey and Chloe will now live on through me not because I’m able, but because I am now going to lean heavily upon the Father who empowered David to be gentle and kind.

We miss David more than words can express, but words are powerful still, and so I will forever write about the Father’s love. I will also write about people like my David who show the Father’s love when hate seems to rule the day. We used to sing a song in church with the following lyrics.

They will know we are Christians by our love.

I’ve been a very angry and hateful human being for a long time, and it’s taken David’s death to really wake me up to the importance of kindness and gentleness. Hurting people hurt people, and David experienced hurt in his life, but once again he was able to lean heavily upon the Father to overcome that hurt to love others amazingly well.

We will never forget David Earheart, but more importantly we will never forget the One he is with now to watch the Vols and the Cubs win every game.

See you soon dear man. Grace and peace to all of you who are hurting from the death of loved ones. It doesn’t seem possible because all we’ve ever known is death, but one day death will be no more.

There will come a day when separation from those we love and the Creator of love will not be a thought.

Grace and peace.

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