It’s my second Father’s Day without our child.

First off, let me say, Bless the name of the Lord.

And then, thank You, God, for the memory of my only son.

Which leads to: the ‘could have beens’ are still so hard to let go of.

I always felt our child would one day – eventually – shake the demons of addiction and land upright, untethered, healed, and whole. It wasn’t to be on this earth, but he’s found it in the Land beyond this globe, the estate of transcendent Love Himself. And there my son waits for us. Fully restored and, yes, safe.

Early on, a friend lamented, “I don’t want to be remembering Graham, I want to [still] be knowing him.”

Especially on days like today, that’d be pretty cool. I’d imagine us taking in a ballgame – him, typically interacting with his disabled dad unashamedly and eyeballing any he caught staring; ever protective, ever proud to be seen with me. Or carving into the biggest steaks together, quietly talking life stuff amid the melange of taste, aroma and good company.

Maybe he’d tell me about the sweet girl he thinks is the one. How she makes him feel like he’s better than he’s ever believed before. She knows his past, and doesn’t let him go there. She challenges him to rise above poor living and break free from his old life, reborn and new.

She’s just the cutest, Dad; and she’s strong! The girl doesn’t take nothing off me. I’m better when I’m around her. Oh! And you’ll like this Dad – I mean, if we end up together, which I hope we do – she wants to have four girls and a son some day – just like you wanted! Isn’t that awesome? Can you see yourself spoiling all those grandkids? I mean, if she’s the one – and’ll have me…which is what I hope happens…

Here’s where I cry.

And the questions: Lord, did it have to end like that? Was there some alternative ending we could’ve opted for with the mere click of a button?

What would his life have looked like…if he’d somehow overcome?

I know. The outcome is what it is, and I accept it with the comfort of knowing You always know what’s best, and joyfully knowing our precious boy is with You. He’s not relegated to some half-class citizenship as one who barely got in by the skin of his teeth, and Your having a last-minute change of mind. No, not that. Thank You, Father, for receiving him from this hard plane as a full-grown son of glory, a co-heir of Heaven’s King with all the beauties and privileges that go with that, no holds barred. It’s joy for us to imagine his tattooed skin now gleaming to high heavens and like all get out.

My buddy Tom will never know how his vision of ‘future Graham’ has been my go-to reminder when I catch myself in lament-mode. If anyone knows, Tom does; he himself cast soil on the casket of a son not too long before my own was put in the ground.

Tom saw Graham – which is remarkable, as he is also a disabled dad, his being blindness – running to his mom and me on that Future Day, with “skin gleaming white.” Such would be his stunning state now, he’d be someone, as Lewis observes in Weight Of Glory, “if [we] saw it now, [we] would be strongly tempted to worship.”

Now that’s a scene I can get excited about!

My son. In glory.

Still, I wish like anything we were flesh-on-flesh hanging with each other today talking about seeing the new Jurassic movie together, or taking him in the backyard and showing with pride my bird-feeder that actually does as advertised: it discourages squirrels and attracts the sweetest and most colorful of the bird kingdom.

I’d love to show him my new hobby. Dad, you’re into photography now? I never knew you were interested in cameras…

Then I’d trouble him to pose while I figure out some settings that would better catch the burst of late-afternoon sunlight leaking through the trees and settling on his left shoulder…

It’d be our kind of day. Quietly grand. Uneventfully memorable.

And somewhere in there, sometime before the old man retires and I leave my son in the living room to watch some TV on his own, not worrying he’s planning some hook-up with friends and drugs – but being assured he’s safe and utterly content – our conversation will invariably turn to the Gospel. And Graham would turn it there, not his preacher dad.

We’d talk at length about how watered-down it’s become, then he’d stun me with his insightful comments and queries (this isn’t dream-think, he often did this), and he’d listen to me and respect me and quote me and tell me I was his favorite preacher. And I’d be in heaven.

Not long after I’d gotten in my bedside apparatus that transports me from wheelchair to bed, he’d walk down the hall and peek his head in the doorway.

“Do you need anything Dad?”

“No thank you, Gra-Gra. I’m good. G’night, son. I love you.”

“I love you too, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.”

Then, sometime before I drift off, I hear the television abruptly cut out and Graham shuffle on the hall tiles to his bedroom. And then, in the postscript of a perfect day, the greatest sound of all: the masterful playing of my son’s fingertips on the strings of his guitar. Melodies that would make angels bend close and lean in drift down the hallway and into my heart. I hold the sacred moment for a breathless moment, not wanting to release it, ever. Here is where I smile.

And here is where I cry.

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Post Author: Pasturescott

15 Replies to “Picturing Graham (A Father’s Day Lamentation)”

  1. Thanks for sharing your heart, Scott. Happy Father’s Day, brother! Your reunion will indeed be a sweet, sweet one someday! Love you and Sandy!

    1. My kind friend, much love to you and heartfelt prayers for your family. I’m so thankful you contacted me all those years ago and have been such a supportive friend!

  2. How sorry I am that I never got to meet your precious son and yet, I feel as though I have. I see him every day in the faces of those God has brought to His House and my heart aches for those who are trapped in the hell of addiction. With only 20% of those afflicted finding their way out of that pit, I have seen far too many lose the battle. And I am so very sorry that one of them was Graham. But I am blessed by your testimony, Scott, dear friend. You show so much of God’s grace in your life and I know Graham is looking down right now saying, “C’mon, Dad… you’re embarrassing me!” We parents are good at doing that. I pray for God’s continued comfort for you and Sandy and know that the Resurrection Day will come for that happy reunion of parents/child and this earthly sorrow will be no more… how I long for that !! Love you, brother!

    1. Kathy, your characterization of Graham is spot on! You may have never of met him but you got them down… That brought such a smile to my face!

      Bless you and Kevin for the tireless kingdom work you’ve given yourself to despite the many heartbreaks and setbacks in those you minister to. You both are making a big difference. Thank you for loving addicts and showing them the hope and love of Jesus.

  3. I think of you and pray for you often. I too write to deal with the loss of our only son. Your blog helps me to keep from becoming angry with God. I am praying for you and Sandy, so glad to have met you both many, many years ago at Camp Deer Lake. You are a blessing.

    1. Andrea, bless you for bearing such a burden in your life and living as an overcomer. It’s all of grace isn’t it? We never bear the burden perfectly but we have a perfect father who supplies grace and strength.

      So thankful for that. Praying His tears for you.

  4. Thank You Scott, for this beautifully written, yet poignnant tribute on Father’s Day without your precious Graham.

    Your transparency in the pain, yet the trust you have in a Loving and Holy God, are clearly evident! Only in our trust in Him, can we know real Joy under such circumstances. You express that so perfectly!!!! Love you and Sandy!!!

    1. We love you dearly Julia and Bill. When we think about you guys in the years we worshipped together at Mountain View it’s a special memory of having our tiny Graham dedicated in that modular building.

      We are so thankful God’s love still captured Graham’s heart!

  5. I love you, my friend.

    Graham and I have some things in common. We both have the same favorite preacher, and he taught us both about Grace.

    1. Thank you, Buddy. You’ll never know with those words do in my heart and soul. Thank you for inviting me into your life and allowing me to share life in Jesus together.

      I love you, my friend.

  6. Thank you for sharing. I was very touched by your words about your precious son. My husband and I are also TTU graduates. I did not know you, but remembered hearing about your accident. We also lost our only daughter Savannah almost three years ago(July 23, 2012). She was 16 and passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a stomach virus right in front of our eyes. We had no idea she was passing away until it was too late. What a journey this has been. We miss her every day. We know she knows joy in heaven like we have never known down here on this old earth. We thank God for how He has used her beautiful life. What an opportunity to trust God for who we know Him to be like never before. We will never be the same since our daughter passed away. Everyone and everything looked and looks different since she passed away. We also have three boys, ages 25, 23 and 17 and now we have three foster children ages 6, 4 and 20 months. God has worked in many amazing ways because of Savannah’s life. We would never call her back from heaven if we could, but I will always wish it never had to happen. We don’t worry about her in heaven. The hard part is getting used to them being gone on this old earth where we knew and loved her best. There is something about connecting with other believers who have experienced the loss of a child that brings a measure of comfort we have found. God bless you in your ministry. I’m looking forward to reading more of your writing. I pray you will continue to know Gods peace and comfort concerning your beloved son. I will be praying for you and your wife. Always looking up, Angie Messer Posey

    1. Angie, your story reaches down and grabs me in the heart-strings. It’s hard enough for us Dads in such a situation, but you Moms…wow. I’m married to a gem much like you. I’ve watched her quiet, prolonged grief and her peace-filled acceptance and contentment in Christ. And I’ve marveled at the healing that’s come. Pain, heartache, yes. But the beauty of a life touched by God’s mercy that springs forth.

      Thank you for sharing your heartache here – and the beauty of a wounded heart kissed by God – and may His kindness continue leading you onward unto that even more glorious Day.

      Blessings, dear one. To you and your family.

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