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When Hugs Won't Cut It

Thursday, June 13, 2024 @ 02:35 PM When Hugs Won't Cut It Joy Lucius The Stand Writer MORE

I have not written about our grief journey in a while. To be honest, people are polite, but they are either tired of hearing about it or simply don’t know how to respond. So, I have learned to keep my grief segregated from most of the people and places in my everyday life.

But the thought of this upcoming Father’s Day is hard to contemplate.

Now granted, Mother’s Day was really tough for me, with one of my two sons absent and gone Home to Jesus. But the day was all about mothers, and as a mother and a grandmother, I managed to keep my personal grief personal, for the most part.

But Father’s Day hits differently.

Not only will my husband Randy mark this day with one of his sons missing, but my precious daughter-in-law and her three children will mark the day without Chris. So, it’s a two-sided ache, one for my husband, the father who sacrificed so much for his sons, and the other for the hole in Chris’s little family.

Of course, people are kind and loving to us. They recognize the pain and the loss, but even on holidays, they are basically helpless to make it better for us. So, most of the time, they simply hug us and avoid the issue altogether.

And let me tell you, silent hugs help tremendously – especially the bear hugs from Chris’ friends and his students and athletes. Those hugs envelop me in an instant piece of love that touches me so deeply and so quickly that it often takes my breath away.

But hugs are different for guys.

They don’t replace the friendship and rapport between a father and his grown son. They cannot replace the respect and deep, abiding relationship born out of the trust earned by a man when his little boy sees his hard days of labor and hears his tough words of truth.

Nor can hugs ever replace the endless, quiet moments of two men, a father and his son, walking side-by-side through Mississippi woods and fields, hunting for various game – but finding a mutual love for God and the beauty of His creations. 

And hugs, even the ones given to Randy by me, his remaining son, or our precious grandchildren, cannot replace Chris’s talks and their daily phone calls for advice and encouragement. Those constant conversations were much-needed gifts that flowed both ways – from father to son and from son to father.

Yep, hugs help, but they cannot fix the hole in a father’s heart when he aches to look into the eyes of literally one-half of the legacy he had intended to leave behind.

See – I remember the daily work my husband Randy put into building that legacy. I was there on the days he worked at a factory for 12 hours and then went straight to ballgames, lugging huge cases of camera and lighting equipment to film Chris’s games for us, for his friends and their parents, and for his coaches to use as teaching tools.

I watched as Randy wordlessly modeled to his boys how to treat women, by respecting me and supporting me, even putting me through college to pursue my teaching degree after the boys got a little older. I remember all the other modeled lessons as well, the ones on truth and honor and dignity and hard work.

I saw Randy teach our boys how to face the failures and unfairness of life. I watched him help the boys get back up every single time and try again – with words of truth and offers of forgiveness, words that were devoid of criticism or guilt.

I also remember how my husband treated his parents and my parents, and I saw that respect and honor transfer to our sons’ treatment of family members – and their treatment of us.

More than anyone else, I also know the things Randy did without so my sons and I would not lack for things. And most of the time, those “things” were not necessary to our existence but merely things to make our lives better and brighter. But his sacrifice was real, very real.

Then, in the past few years, I saw the sleepless nights Randy spent praying for Chris when he first got sick and the subsequent nights afterward. I saw the look of pain when he took Chris for those really tough treatments, the helpless looks of wishing, as a father, that he could take the pain for our child.

And when Chris died, I saw that same look in his eyes for me and our family. He wanted so badly to fix this paint for us, but he couldn’t. Ironically, that is the same pain I feel for Randy now. I wish I could make this Father’s Day easier, but I can’t.

Because the truth is, on Father’s Day and every day, it all comes back to one question: What is a daddy to do without his son?

The only answer I can offer my husband is the same one he has offered me for almost a year since Chris’ death: Turn to the Father!

Over this past year, we have learned as a family that our Father not only understands our loss; He experienced it personally – and He did so willingly. He gave His only begotten Son for us. Jesus came to earth, lived a sinless life, and then went willingly to the Cross to suffer and die for us. And through His resurrection, the Father gave us the hope of salvation and eternity with Him.

So, yes, the Father knows all about Randy’s pain, and that is the most amazing concept of all. He is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He felt them for us.

No, this won’t be an easy holiday for Randy to celebrate. And yes, he will get a lot of love and hugs this Sunday. But they will not replace Chris’ hugs. No matter how great and numerous those hugs are, they simply will not erase Randy’s longing to be with his son Chris, to talk with him, see his laughing, dimpled face, and hear his distinctive voice.

But thanks be to God, Randy will walk with Chris again one day, side-by-side in our Father’s Home, a Home that was willingly and purposefully purchased in full by the blood of His Son Jesus.

And the promise of that day is the best Father’s Day gift of all time – especially for a father currently living here on earth without his son.


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