When I think about Mother’s Day, I can’t help but still be a little preoccupied by the loss of my dad. Even though it’s been nearly six years.

Death is an event that seems to shift everything in it’s path. It creates a sort of canyon along the side of our existence. Inside that canyon is hurt and pain, sorrow and guilt, joy and peace and myriad of other things. It’s something we eventually learn to cope with. From very young, as humans we learn that death is a big part of life. And somehow, the canyon still runs next to us, a place that we could lean into for escape, but choose not for the sake of survival.

It was the evening of Valentines Day and I was sitting at a restaurant table with my brother and mom. He and I had taken a couple days off of work to be with her in Panama City for her first Valentines Day without dad. It wasn’t necessarily a paramount holiday for them, but even some seemingly trite events are missed whenever they are no longer. Sometime between our salads and our steaks, Jeremy tells mom “Dad would sure be proud of you.” It may have choked her up a bit – that would be understandable. It’s true, though. If dad could provide commentary to some of the things that mom found herself having to do over that last seven months they may sound something like this:

“I am so proud of you.”
“I’m glad you found that.”
“You must have known me even better than I thought you did.”
“I love to see you laugh.”
“It’s no wonder we were perfect for each other!”
“Aren’t our sons handsome!” (only kidding)

She is strong. She has spent so many days living inside the truth that God makes beauty for ashes. She has picked herself up from the most difficult trial in all her days and she has found her existence in Jesus, though it might have been easier to find her existence in someone who is gone. She has learned that it’s in our weakness that we become strong and if it weren’t for the rainy days, the sunshine may not seem as bright. And most recently, if we didn’t go about our life alongside a canyon of grief, we may never realize the beauty around us.

Even though each of us would trade a thousand sunsets for another day with the one who is gone, we are left without a choice but to carry about. To remember the joy and peace and beauty of how it once was and how it will be again. To trust in the unfailing love of Jesus that will never let us go.

To be a strong parent, quite possibly the most important thing you can show your kids is the strength in your weakness. That deep strength that keeps you standing when it might be easier to fall. Deeper than questions, deeper than your fears and deeper than the canyon of grief.