Celebrating (and Missing) My Dad with Hope

Five years ago I stood in the cold on a hill in Liberty, West Virginia.  I tiptoed through the grass, not wanting to disturb the silence, wanting to blend in to the crowd.  I walked over a hill past headstone after headstone, name after name, loving words upon loving words, to my dad’s final resting place.  In the distance I saw the machinery that would cover my dad once they lowered him into the ground.  I could hear my sniffles, for my weeping was yet to come.

I said goodbye to my dad.

I knew my loving, vibrant dad was not in the box.  He wouldn’t be in that grave.  He doesn’t rest in the cemetery.

And that’s why I have HOPE. 

Today I can hardly grasp that my dad’s been gone five years. It often seems like five minutes. Some moments are never easier.

I’ve written much about my dad on this blog; how he died, how it’s affected me, and how much I miss him. I celebrate dad here every October 4 – his birthday – and every January 10 – the day he took his last earthly breath.  I celebrate him in my heart every day.

I commemorate these days to remind myself and others to truly love  – now, this moment, today – don’t wait.  Love your family.  Love your friends.  Love one another.  You don’t know when death is coming; my dad didn’t.  One minute he was talking to me on the phone, the next minute a text from my sister, and he’s on a ventilator.

Most of all, I celebrate my dad  to remind myself that my HOPE is not in this world.  My dad’s hope was not here on this broken earth.  Our hope – mine and my dad’s – is in heaven.

My hope is Jesus.  My hope is in a man who is also God.  Who walked this earth and died on a cross, rising up from the grave to save me – and my dad – from our sins.  (John 3:16)

Hope is confident expectation.  I am confident that Jesus is who he says he is and my life is secure in eternity.  I am expecting, waiting on Him and His return.

I miss my dad today.  January 10 always looms like a dark cloud.  But, today, the dark cloud is accompanied by a beautiful rainbow – a sign of God’s promises to me and the world.  A sign of hope.

Instead of walking in sadness today, I can walk in freedom and joy, knowing my Creator saves me, forgives me, redeems me, and loves me.  Most of all, he promises me an eternity with Him and my dad.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Psalm 62:5


  1. Wendy Ketelsen says:

    Beautifully written, Sarah! I lost my mom when I was 8 years old and can’t wait to see and be with her again. So many times in my life I have felt her presence and many times had to remind myself that she is with me, just in another form. God bless you for these daily readings. I love them.

    • Thanks so much, Wendy:) I had no idea you lost your momma so young. But, I love your hope in heaven and an eternity with her! I hope to see you this weekend!

  2. So true Sarah

    • Malinda…I know you got to meet my dad on a few occasions. He was thankful we lived near you and Calvin and that you took such good care of Owen. We do miss having you as our neighbors;)

  3. Susan Barengo says:

    Sarah, it’s been two months today since my dad died. I am at peace that he is with Jesus but my heart is still so broken. Thank you for your words!

    • Susan, In many ways my heart is still broken too. My dad was 56. I lament often that he died way too young. He wanted grandchildren more than anything in the world. He died before seeing how great my kiddos are. But, after five years, I am healing. No more what ifs and whys – just peace that God’s plan is greater, and I have hope to see my dad’s sweet face again someday.

      As you know…there’s hope. I pray for your healing. Thanks for your kind words 🙂

  4. Beautiful.

  5. Thank you for posting this. I’m feeling it with you. Next month is four years for me.

    • I thought of you this morning, Sundi Jo. I think you’re beginning to see how and why your book resonated with me. I appreciate your words:) I also appreciate you reading. I respect you much!

  6. Ashley Clark says:

    Thanks for your beautiful words, Sarah. Our relationships with one another are too easy to take for granted. Thanks for the reminder to love each other every day.

    • Thank you, Ashley:) I often take my kiddos and husband and extended family for granted. Even friends. I dont thank enough. I don’t say “I appreciate you” enough. These days remind us all.

  7. I lost my dad this past April. It was sudden and a devastating loss for me. I was challenged to blog about my journey through grief on my own blog and your post here today has fueled that fire even further. I have found that my response to his loss has been more celebration and more gratitude in the everyday moments I have now with loved ones who still remain. I try desperately not to take them for granted.

  8. Rusty Bailey says:

    Your Dad was a Great Man. Every kid in Bancroft wanted to be Pud Bailey! He was a Champion both in sports and in life. Continue to Celebrate his Life as he lived a Great example to us all.

  9. So sorry, Sarah, for the heart hurt but also praising God for His Hope in you!


  1. […] line touched me deeply.  Not only because I will miss her, but because I recently celebrated the anniversary of my dad’s death and another good friend’s dad died […]

  2. […] Celebrating (and Missing) My Dad with Hope (January 10, 2013) […]

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