Six years

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“So what’s it like having a dead dad?”

God moves. God is faithful. God turns broken into beautiful.

The question might not have seemed so inappropriate if a couple of years had passed, but it had only been a few months.

“What’s it like? What the h*** do you think it’s like?!” I answered . . . albeit with my mouth shut. I didn’t think a verbal dispute with Mr Insensitive was worth my time and energy. 

But now, nearly six years to the day (December 13) since my dad—my Papa—passed away from a cerebral haemorrhage, I’d like to answer this question. 

“So what’s it like . . . ?”

It’s hard. It still hurts. They say time heals all wounds. I say that’s a load of rubbish. There’s no getting over the pain of losing someone so precious and pivotal in your life. Just ask a parent who has lost a child—they’ll carry that scar to the grave. Which, by the way, is more than fine. Pain isn’t a sign of weakness. Nobody goes through life unscathed.  

“So what’s it like . . . ?”

It’s normal. Not the normal I knew for 22 years, but a new normal. “Does that mean you’ve moved on?” The answer is yes . . . and my dad would have wanted it that way. It doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about him. I’ve turned the page and taken the memory of him with me.

“So what’s it like . . . ?”

It’s okay. Actually, it’s more than okay—it’s good . . . because God is so good. Don’t get me wrong, I wish my dad was here more than anything else. But I take comfort knowing he’s safely tucked away in the ground where Satan and his minions can’t get to him. “The dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5); he’s resting and waiting in peace.

“So what’s it like . . . ?”

It’s motivating. I have the enormous privilege of having my dad’s name—Lin—embedded in mine. This gives me an extra incentive to make something of myself. My dad can’t see it now but one day I’ll get to show him. Soon and very soon.

“So what’s it like . . . ?”

It’s life-changing. The day Papa passed away was the day my faith really came alive. That may be an uncomfortable concept but it’s the truth. I have a longing for heaven now. Perhaps I should have had it already, but I didn’t. To be clear, I don’t think I’m better off with him gone. Losing him, though, has allowed me to see further evidence for a God who shows up when our world caves in. That’s what He does—the plan of salvation came about because of the pain of sin. God moves. God is faithful. God turns broken into beautiful.

“So what’s it like having a dead dad?”

In a way I still really can’t answer that question. The experience of losing a loved one is different for everyone, just as our lives are. One thing, though, is certain. Those who mourn will be comforted (Matthew 5:4). 

So to those carrying a hurt, whether it was six or 60 years ago, I encourage you to keep your head up. Hang tight. Hold on to the One who holds on to you. Because “there is coming a day” . . . and “what a day, glorious day, that will be.”


Linden Chuang is assistant editor—digital of Adventist Record.