This Father’s Day weekend my mind has been going back to “the” call. You all know “the” call. The one we hope to never get, but it’s inevitable that one day we all will.

Through the years I have received many calls that my dad was in the hospital, again. And every single time he defied medical odds. He was amazing. Best known in our big, extended family as “Papa”, he was the well-loved and wise patriarch of the family.

But this time, I somehow knew that this was “the” call. Every time before, my mom would call to let us know that dad was in the hospital, and when I said that I would be right there, she always said that there was no need. She just wanted to let us know what was going on.

But this time, she didn’t protest. I remember the car ride to the hospital with my sister. We talked about what we thought we would find when we got there. We wondered if they were keeping him alive until we all could get there. I remember walking down the hallway and seeing my mom. I remember that in this most awful time for her, she had to tell her daughters that the love of her life had already left this earth. I remember my brother getting off the elevator and watching him receive the news. Then, as we had many times before, we walked down the hospital corridor to my dad’s room.

But this time, it would be our last. It would also be the last time the five of us would physically be in the same room together. Ever. We cried and said our good-byes. But how do you say good-bye to someone who is no longer there? No matter how well prepared we were for this moment, it. was. hard. How do you start the day as five, and end the day as four? Eventually, it was time to leave and make the familiar drive back to my mother’s house.

But this time, there was much business to attend to. I remember his watch being taken off his arm. He never went anywhere without two things- his watch and his pocket knife. I remember my mom trying to locate the library book he brought to the hospital so it could be returned without penalty. It’s funny the things that need to be done in times like this that you never would think of. So many phone calls to make and receive, so many crazy details to attend to. In the midst of everything, there were also many prayers said, like so many times before.

But this time, the prayers weren’t for dad’s healing; for he was already eternally healed and in the presence of our most Holy God. This time the prayers were for our healing. Healing of the sadness we had because we already missed him so much. Prayers for our mom, who was suddenly very alone even though people were all around her. Prayers for the entire family who had to find the way to continue on.

This would not be the only time I would receive “the” call. A few years later “the” call would come again about my mom. And to my surprise, that call put my entire life in a tail spin. And once again, it. was hard.

So, now I am on the other side of “the” call. And even though I wouldn’t want my parents to leave heaven to satisfy my selfish desire of one more day with them, I miss them. And even though I know that I will one day see them again, I miss them. And even though I am so very thankful that I had the privilege of being their daughter, I miss them.