As God’s providence would have it, the summer after I graduated from college I was in a minor car accident. The brand-new little car I had bought for myself (using college grad rebates as a downpayment) was in the body shop for three weeks. The providence in this is that during that time, my dad was able to drive me back and forth to my job in a neighboring town. That hour I spent with my dad every day helped me to know him as an adult after the four years of being away at school. We’d talk about things we heard on the radio, discuss quirks of family members, laugh at the sportstalk show that dad loved. He always listened compassionately to me, and it was rare that he gave me life’s answers or told me what decision was the right one in any particular situation.
Occasionally, dad and I would leave a bit earlier in the morning and go out for breakfast along the way. One of these mornings, the hostess seated us in a booth next to the window. Once we had ordered, we passed sections of the newspaper back and forth and drank our coffee in a comfortable silence. I remember one particular vivid detail. That morning, the sunlight came streaming through the window and cast an ethereal glow on our table. A random person in that restaurant would not have noticed anything out of the ordinary in the scene. As I look back on it now, though, it occurs to me that the memory of that ordinary breakfast is something I’ve carried in my heart for over 25 years. Now, the memory of the streams of light suggests resurrection.
My dad died of a heart attack few years later. At the time of his death, I had been married for a while and our oldest daughter (his first grandchild) was six months old. Dad was there when she was baptized, but didn’t live to see her first birthday. Now, Lauren is a freshman in college and lives 3000 miles away.
The memory of breakfast with my dad that day is sometimes enough to sustain me. The beauty of the sunlight streaming down… the love and affection we shared… the daughter seeing her father in a different light… This is the stuff that life is made of. This memory is sometimes enough when I miss my dad and wish I could take him out for breakfast. It is sometimes enough when I am having a particularly difficult conversation with my college freshman. It is sometimes enough when I am attempting to console a friend who has lost a loved one. What makes it truly enough is the grace to be able to see each scene with the eyes of faith. What makes it enough is the grace to know that my presence might be the one thing that someone else holds in their heart 25 years from now. Not because of anything I could do or say, but simply because of God’s grace.