At the last minute, I decided to take a train with Audrey down to Virginia for another concert in Dan’s honor. I figured I probably wouldn’t have any regrets by going, but I might regret it if I didn’t. It would’ve been hard to sit at home knowing there was anything going on to honor him and I was not there.
The very prospect of getting four rides to the train stations, and sitting on a train with a toddler for 3-1/2 hours, plus trying to get her to sleep for a couple of nights in someone else’s house was exhausting, but then a good friend pointed out that I’m always exhausted and pretty miserable anyway now so what’s the difference. She was right.
Audrey made a pretty good traveling companion and I like riding trains, granted it was a bit different with a two year old climbing all over me. Not quite as much quality meditative time to stare out the window. More like snacks, toys, walking up and down the aisle…and finally on the way there she fell asleep on me.
So now we’re back. I am so thankful for our friends in Northern Virginia. I invited Mr. and Mrs. E., (the pastor and wife Dan lived with for two years when he first moved back to the States from Korea) to the concert and we sat together talking. I also got to see Dan’s youth group teacher from his old church whom I’ve been in touch with on the phone. We embraced for a very long time. Emotionally, it felt much easier to be there than the NY concert for many reasons. They also played the same slideshow of Dan that I had made for the NYC concert and I thought I’d just walk away and not watch it- but in the end, I did watch it. I held Audrey who I’d brought to this concert and she pointed excitedly- “There’s Audrey and appa!” Somewhere towards the end, that searing pain surprised me. I realized- there’s my family- there we are- and then it hit me- this is a benefit because Dan has truly died. That’s how it happens.
I’ve been thinking about your body so much more now that the weather is cold. It is very hard to believe that your body that I see coming in our room, or laughing as I tickle you, is underneath the dirt. Very hard to process. I try to picture what’s happening to it now sometimes. It’s horrifying in a way I cannot put into words so I think my mind prefers to separate your living body from that one. All I have left of you is a few fingernails and a lock of hair- both parts of the body that are already dead while we have them on us and so the only things that don’t really change after life leaves.
I was thinking the other day how I still just can not reconcile you being in a space called heaven and being aware that you’ve left Audrey fatherless and being OK with that. I thought to myself, “No, even if there is such a vast separation between God and earthly things- if your soul truly was still alive, your love for Audrey was strong enough that you would find a way to break through- I just know it.” And then I realized that my thoughts sounded strangely familiar…a father crossing an uncross-able boundary because he loves his children. Perhaps what I’m asking you to do has already been done by the only one able to do it.