Mike Cope's blog

Friday, December 16, 2005

Another amazing chapter in Hero Mama is near the end of the book when Karen Spears Zacharias tells about her journey to Vietnam to visit the place where her father died when she was just nine. "I've walked the streets where my father roamed as a boy. I've sat in the pews of the church where he was baptized. Over the years, I've made several trips to my father's grave at Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Tennessee. And trips to the Vietnam Veterans memorial in Washington, D. C. But I've never felt my father's presence more strongly than I did there in that dusty red-dirt gully at the base of Dragon Mountain, in a land full of people whose language I couldn't speak and whose customs I didn't know. Finally I knew what it felt like to come home. This was the place where my father had been waiting for me all these years." As she neared the site of her dad's death with a couple other women who had lost dads in the war, walking through the village of Plei Me she heard music coming from a hut. It was the Beatles: "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away." She writes, "We burst out in laughter. Was it possible our fathers were serenading us from the heavens above?" Then at the end of the chapter: "The pain of war does not end when the bombing stops. . . . There is no getting over the Vietnam War for those families. Not for any of us, really. The Vietnam War, as all wars do, forever altered the landscape of our nation and our families, causing us to fight our way through some tough terrain. "I have come to terms with a harsh history, as a daughter and as a citizen of a free nation. I don't miss my father any less with each passing year. I am simply more aware of all the life he's missed. I did not go to Vietnam seeking closure. Grief is a journey with a beginning, but it does not have an end, not in this life anyway. . . . "Moments before we'd boarded a plan in Singapore, bound for Los Angeles, our group gathered around big-screen televisions and listened as President Bush announced that American troops would soon invade Iraq. My heart sank into my gut. I said a prayer for the families that would soon be thrust into an inevitable lifelong journey of grief and reconciliation. . . . "Our journey [to Vietnam] allowed us sons and daughters the chance to ransom the sacred moments of our fathers' lives so we can carry them to eternity's shores. We're sure our soldier fathers will have camp set up by the time we arrive."

7 Comments:

  • That's two mornings in a row now I've been teary eyed before I've even gotten out of bed. (Gotta love these laptops.)

    Grief is a journey with a beginning, but it does not have an end, not in this life anyway. . . .

    Much truth in that statement. Sounds like an amazing book.

    By Blogger reJoyce, at 12/16/2005 04:54:00 AM  

  • Joyce,

    I think you're right that there's much truth in this statement:

    "Grief is a journey with a beginning, but it does not have an end, not in this life anyway. . . ."

    But it's also true that there's a way to a great hope of dealing with it through the power of our God and his healing Spirit. I pray for grieving people to know that.

    I fear there are many parallels between Viet Nam and Iraq--sad.

    Thanks for sharing, Mike--
    Judy Callarman

    By Blogger Judy Callarman, at 12/16/2005 05:52:00 AM  

  • "What might have been?" is the question I ask myself in regards to my own fatherloss. Father's have such a powerful influence in our lives. Loving my children has been a journey into "what might have been." I love my children as if my father was there during my childhood, loving me.

    2 Corinthians 1:3-6

    3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

    By Blogger David Michael, at 12/16/2005 07:30:00 AM  

  • "Grief is a journey with a beginning, but it does not have an end, not in this life anyway. . . ."

    I agree. This whole idea of closure that I hear so much about seems elusive.

    A few years ago in a town near here, there was a young girl who was brutally murdered. Her last words to her assailant were "Jesus loves you." After her death, the murderer was caught, convicted and sentenced to death.

    The girls mother testified and pressured the courts and prosecuter for years and years to get his penalty carried out. When asked what drove her she mentioned that she simply wanted closure. The woman lost her marriage and even her health. I wonder what would have happened if she had pursued forgiveness instead.

    By Blogger Joel Maners, at 12/16/2005 07:46:00 AM  

  • David--
    That is a precious and loving way to choose to be! God led you to this.

    Judy

    By Blogger Judy Callarman, at 12/16/2005 07:49:00 AM  

  • I am always hesitant to weigh in on the serious stuff. My life has been relatively untouched by pain and death. I have lost a close friend/father figure to cancer. His death did have an impact on me – but there was recognition that no matter how much I missed him in death - his life had a greater impact.

    I also watched someone close to me react in a completely different fashion when she lost a parent. She focused on her grief in a destructive way. She rarely engaged in a conversation where it did not come out in the first minute or two that her parent had died. Five years later her grief became a part of her identity.

    It was all about what she had lost and not what had been given to her. Feelings for God turned to resentment because of what God had done to her. To suggest that it might have been – what it really was - an accident – was even more of an insult because then the death was meaningless. The “theology” of Everything Happens for a Purpose only exacerbated the problem – because, what purpose could God have to cause us such pain?

    Grief is a difficult thing. Like attraction, pride and euphoria it can become the focus of our existence and consume us.

    Judy’s prayer is also mine - I pray for grieving people to know that there's a way of great hope in dealing with grief through the power of our God and his healing Spirit.

    By Blogger J A Pierpont, at 12/16/2005 08:47:00 AM  

  • joel wrote: The woman lost her marriage and even her health. I wonder what would have happened if she had pursued forgiveness instead.

    She probably would have lost her marriage and even her health. Things like that tend to happen when your child is brutally murdered.

    Forgiving is the right thing to do, but it isn't guaranteed to make everything better.

    By Blogger Matthew, at 12/16/2005 10:12:00 AM  

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