After grief begins to fade, joy appears unexpectedly like an old friend.
I saw bikers this morning, probably twenty of them riding in close formation down Sandestin Boulevard. I was heading south to Mass when they rolled out of the turn-about heading north. The flash of their colorful jerseys, helmets, and pedaling legs caused my heart to race.
As emotions clutched my gut and closed my throat, I lifted my hand off the steering wheel in greeting. The lead biker in the peloton waved back as they rode past.
My father loved to bike. That’s him in the top photo. He did so several times a week, both in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and in Phoenix where he moved in retirement. He earned a gold medal in the El Tour de Phoenix Senior Olympics race in April 1998.
He was given six months to live.
His jersey, hat, riding gloves, and medal from that race hang near my desk. A year later, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and given six-to-nine months to live.
Moving the sad emotion out of the way, I reclaimed the joy of knowing that he and mom are enjoying eternal life with Our Lord, Jesus. Both visited me in unique ways shortly after their deaths, bringing great peace and joy as their final gift to me. The depth of their happiness was immediately apparent but unimaginable, exceeding anything our human bodies can experience.
Strong faith in the communion of saints
I chose to match my emotions to the faith strong and sure within me. Acting on that faith, I denied the shadow of sorrow that tried to darken the joy my heart knows about the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. I will continue to choose joy instead of sadness, and life over death, just as my father did. He lived ten years after his diagnosis.
He knew how to have a good ride.