Next year is going to be hard.
Don’t get me wrong, this year is hard. But next year will be much more painful.
This year is 19 years. It’s not really a significant number. But next year will be 20 years. Twenty years that I’ve somehow managed to live without the sound of my father’s voice. Two decades without his wisdom and guidance. A score of life passed without him in it.
It really doesn’t seem possible that I’ve done this, because how could I go even one day without my Dad? But I have. One day grew. It became a week, then a month, then a year…and now here I am, two days shy of 19 years.

Added to this is the loss of my mother. She died three weeks before the two year anniversary of his death. Ages ago when this was all very new it felt like a great gulf existed between these two dates – 22 February 2001 and 1 February 2003. However, a friend of mine warned me that as time moved on that distance would shrink, the two years would feel like a minuscule blink, and the death of my father, and then the death of my mother would become one event.
I didn’t believe him when he said this, but he’s been proven correct. I grieve for them both in February, the loss of my parents.

That same friend is taking part in a social media challenge — 10 Albums that Impacted Your Life. I read his post and thought that I would not do well with this one because I tend to resonate with particular songs rather than whole albums. And I started looking through my music library to see which songs stick out as particularly meaningful to me. When I got to the D’s I came across the song Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross.
I don’t play this song very often.
It still hurts too much.
But I remember distinctly the first time I heard it. I was living in Salina, Kansas. I worked as a photographer for the Salina Journal and had been given an assignment down in McPherson, about 40 minutes south. I was heading into town, driving north on Lakeside Drive and this song came on the radio. It was June or July 2003, about five or six months after Momma died. The song had me crying almost instantly, but when it got to the end where he remembered being a little boy and hearing his mother grieve, I was sobbing so hard I had to pull off the road and just weep.

Almost twenty years later, this song can still take me back to that exact moment. And I’m crying now. I’ve learned so much since then — about love, and grief, and compassion and how “…the ones that love us never really leave us…” But I’ve also learned that the loss of my parents, which has become one event for me, can pull be back in time and still has the power to shatter my heart.
So today I’m sending this song and my love to all who are grieving. Whether the loss you’ve faced is brand new or far older and deeper than mine, you have my love and compassion.
For those who have not been touched by grief, no explanation will suffice.
For those who have loved and faced that loss, no explanation is needed.

So, here is the video for Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross (co-written by Richard Marx). At the time this song came out Vandross had been hospitalized. He died two years later in July 2005 at the age of 54. My dad had been 55 when he died, I cried for Luther when I heard the news because he was also so young, and because I was so grateful to him for this song.
I hope this song, which has blessed me so much, will be a blessing to someone who is hurting now.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmDxJrggie8

Lyrics:

Back when I was a child
Before life removed all the innocence
My father would lift me high
And dance with my mother and me
And then
Spin me around ’till I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure
I was loved

If I could get another chance
Another walk
Another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never ever end
How I’d love love love
To dance with my father again

When I and my mother
Would disagree
To get my way I would run
From her to him
He’d make me laugh just to comfort me
yeah yeah
Then finally make me do
Just what my mama said
Later that night when I was asleep
He left a dollar under my sheet
Never dreamed that he
Would be gone from me

If I could steal one final glance
One final step
One final dance with him
I’d play a song that would never ever end
‘Cause I’d love love love to
Dance with my father again

Sometimes I’d listen outside her door
And I’d hear how mama would cry for him
I’d pray for her even more than me
I’d pray for her even more than me

I know I’m praying for much too much
But could you send back
The only man she loved
I know you don’t do it usually
But Dear Lord she’s dying to dance with my father again
Every night I fall asleep
And this is all I ever dream…