My father went to heaven today at age 86. In some ways I lost him a number of years ago when dementia set in but today it was final - for this world. He left ten children, many grand and great grandchildren and many spiritual children.
My life changed today. I am not sure all the ways but I know it did. I will know it next week as well as we lower a casket into a grave.
There is no longer a generation of men ahead of me to die. I am now on the front lines. Mortality took a step closer. I cannot pretend. The grave is ample proof. My father said as much to me years ago when his father died. It was a rare instance of transparency into his heart. He was a private man but less so as the years went by.
Legacy now passes to me. I am part of my father's legacy and it is now mine to pass one on to my children: Jon, Chip and grandson Gavrel. Like my father's it will be flawed by living in a fallen world but still I have choices and those choices and example and relationships and life become the legacy I will one day leave. There is much that I can treasure about the legacy I was handed. There is much I can do about the legacy I hand off.
Life is precious but it is also limited which is why heaven becomes even more precious. For it is unlimited in its time (there is none), its person (Jesus), and it's wonder. As C.S. Lewis wrote, it is the home we were truly made for. It is the home father was made for and he has now looked into the loving eyes of the One he served and loved. Like Paul, he fought the good fight. Like Paul, not perfectly, but like Paul not timidly either.
There is no unfinished business between us. Fortunately we took care of that years ago. It won't be long until we are reunited as he today is with parents, family and other friends who went before. I am sure there is a party taking place somewhere even as we grieve but grieve well for a life well lived.
Finishing well is the challenge all of us have. Dad finished well. I desire to finish well. It makes the leaving ever so much more easy for the one who leaves and the ones who are left. For believers there are no final good by's, just temporary ones.
See also, Legacy. Thoughts on my dad