Even When It’s Tough

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By:  Staci Stallings

Some guys run into burning buildings for a living.  Some run into the line of fire to save others.  Those men often absorb injuries to themselves but do what’s necessary despite the danger and pain to do it.

My dad is one of those guys except he doesn’t run into physically burning buildings, he runs into the spiritually burning ones.  Though he did attend the Seminary when he was younger, he is not the leader of a church.  He is not a deacon or even a spiritual mentor on some roster somewhere.  His training comes from life but his calling comes from his heart.

Put simply, he has a heart for the hurting and the lost.  He will get in there and be with someone when everyone else is scrambling for the emotional exits.  I can’t say that I’ve always known or appreciated this quality about my dad, but since my brother’s death, it has become well-pronounced.  Others now look to my dad for guidance when the unthinkable happens.

And somehow, my dad is able to be there.

I’m not sure how much courage it takes to do that because frankly, I’m sure he’s still dealing with the tragic loss of his son, but he doesn’t back down from hard.  When a family in our hometown recently put their mother in hospice, Dad was there.  When another family lost a young man to a car accident, Dad went to hug, to hold, to help.

Then they asked, as others have, if Dad would say a few words at the wake service.  What do you say to a grieving family when your heart is still broken from your own loss?  What do you say to these parents who just lost their child to a car accident?

Or to another set of parents who just found out their son killed himself?

I don’t know what you say, and I’m not sure my dad does either.  But that doesn’t stop him from going as it does so many of us.  He goes anyway.  It is that courage and that example I am most grateful for in my life.  To have that model to follow and emulate is a gift without price to this daughter’s heart.  It gives me not something to live up to, but something to remember when life throws awful things at the people I love.

I am convinced there is no greater gift than showing up for others in the tough times.

The other night my dad called as he so often does for computer help.  We have a running joke between us that I’m the Dell spokesperson and this time I’m going to charge him double (of course, double of nothing is still nothing, but…)

I walked him through the process of doing what he wanted and then asked what this particular project was for.  He said, “Oh, they asked me if I would speak at the wake tonight, and I wanted to have something down on paper.”  My heart broke for him and swelled with pride at the same time, knowing how close we were to memories of my brother.  I said, “It never gets easier, does it?”

He said simply, “No.”



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