I’m trying so very hard not to make the early posts on this blog solely about the loss of my Dad and more about the hope we have moving forward as a family. I want Emerson to read this blog one day and know that everything I’ve done has been for her. She’ll already know that her mother loves her, cherishes her and makes so many sacrifices for her. But I want Emerson to also know that her dad took “Honor thy Father” from Exodus 20:12 to heart. It means more to me than just a few words in the Bible. It is real to me, but was real to me only because my father deserved it. I want Emerson to think I deserve that too.
But I need to talk about my Dad now. Or at least the memory of my Dad. Emerson will never know him and that’s the one thing I can’t change other than to be the man that he taught me to be.
So where do you start with such an incredible task? You don’t. You build You remember. You remember the times he taught you patience in a deer blind. You remember the time he cared enough to help you build a wind tunnel science project. You remember the time he taught you the meaning of right and wrong by letting you do wrong and just watching you learn from it. You remember him laughing at you getting a Ford Mustang stuck in the mud, but helping you out of it. You remember a good man. A great man. A man that meant so much to your life and who you are. And as you grow as a man you see just how similar you are to him. And you’re proud to be a carbon copy of him. To share his name. To honor him through your actions.
His funeral was a beautiful tribute to the man he was. Hearing his willingness to stop on the highway and help a strander traveler. His love of all these children who weren’t his progeny. And, to me, that was his greatest triumph. My father loved my sister, who wasn’t his own. Loved her to the point that I often felt he was more proud of her conversion from teen to adult than anything I ever did. And, honestly, I loved that. My sister’s friends had a father, often for the first times in their lives, because of my dad. He was everything I want to be.
I have a dream every week about Lee Horn, Sr. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they don’t make sense, and sometimes I wake up crying. I don’t mind those mornings either. At least I had another moment with him. I welcome those dreams.
So that’s dreams, thoughts but what about regrets? My regrets are easy. Simply not spending enough time with him. I didn’t know he’d be gone when I was 33. I didn’t know he’d lose a battle to a cancer that had a 90% survival rate at 63. I simply didn’t know I should’ve spent more time with him. And I absolutely regret that.
This morning I heard his voice again, like I do many days, on my voicemail. I saved 3 messages from him over a 4 month period in 2013 when I thought things were turning worse. And his voice is like it never left. A harbor for me when my mind is adrift.
I don’t know how to end this post. Not sure I’ll even post it. But I had to write it, cry trying to say enough to honor him as he deserved, and ultimately feeling like no one will ever know him like I did. But that’s exactly what I said to him as I held his hand during his final breaths. I told him that he did everything he could to make me the man I am today. I am so very thankful my wife stood strong over my shoulder as I poured my heart out to my Dad telling him it was okay. I told him that I could handle it as he let go from this world to watch over us in Heaven. It wasn’t easy for him, I assure you. It was a vision I’ll never forget. The first time he opened his eyes in days. To look at his son who was telling him that it was okay to leave us here. That we had it from here. That he’d better serve us, as he always served his fellow human, from Heaven now instead of in this mortal body.
But, Dad. I have to say this here. I miss you dearly. I lay in bed missing you at night just to hear your advice. It’s not fair. I lay silently spilling tears onto my pillow so I don’t upset my wife, just like you taught me. I find myself wishing I could just talk to you in person again, not just find you in prayer. I find solace in prayer, in church. Knowing you’re hearing me. Thinking that in just a few moments in your timeline, we’ll all be up there celebrating with you. But on this mortal Earth, I miss you. I miss you every day and I want you to hear that. I love you.