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Prayer Journal: Day 11. A Reflection about Death, Grief, and Peace.

Day 11

Today on the anniversary of 9/11, I would like to share a reflection about death, grief, and peace.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Phil. 4: 6, 7.

It seems that I have a lot of anxiety.

Is being “anxious for nothing” an impossible directive? It’s hard to be thankful for something when I feel like I’m going to lose it.

I really miss my dad. I miss him so much it hurts sometimes. I remember an incident the week before my dad died.  One of my difficult clients asked for a refund that week. And I still helped one of my fellow entrepreneurs during a barter the week that my dad died. It’s like I was incapable of stopping my work when I really needed to. Didn’t I deserve to rest?

Jesus says that he will give us peace. He will guard our minds.

My dad was a hard worker. So am I.

Maybe I am afraid that if I cut back on work and delegate more, I would be less like my dad. I don’t know any other way to be.

They say that hearing is one of the last senses to go before you die. I was reading the hospice book right before my dad died because my mom asked me to. One of the last things I said to my dad before he died is, “it’s going to be okay.”

It is always okay when Jesus is taking care of you. He is taking care of my dad.

Maybe that is what it means to rest in peace. We have to claim it to feel it. And we deserve it. Amen.

The Four-year Anniversary of My Dad’s Death: A Reflection on His Fondness for Star Trek

March 14, 2020 will be the four-year anniversary of my dad’s passing. My dad, Henry Akao, was a “trekie.” I remember watching episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation with him when I was a kid.

One of my dad’s all-time favorite things to say to me was, “Study hard; get an A; become an astronaut.” We laughed every time he said it. It was his way of saying, “shoot for the stars.” I always did.

My dad was a structural engineer by trade, but the science of Star Trek may have intrigued him. The exploration. The idea of the space age was big back then.

I laughed when I saw that my son, Jacob Henry, has an elf ear. A baby Vulcan, perhaps? No, he’s too emotional. He gets that from me.

Jacob Henry loves exploring, for sure. Here’s a picture of him discovering the vast new spaces of our yard.

I’ve recently been enjoying episodes of Picard, a show that entertains the idea of Star Trek’s famous captain coming out of retirement to embark on one last adventure.

My dad was a hard worker, and to some extent I think retirement bored him, too. Even when he had Alzheimer’s, he insisted on going to The World of Concrete conferences to keep up with the skills of his trade.

Later in life we discovered that my dad had a talent we didn’t know about: he liked to sing.

He and my mom would sing in Colin Ross concerts every now and then. He always remembered the words.

Henry Akao at Colin Ross Concert in March 2013

Even though it has been four years, I miss my dad.

I still grieve.

When I feel overcome by emotion, I take time to do a guided-meditation that I learned during a Mindfulness Stress-Reduction class I took when Dad was first put on hospice.

One of the sentences from the meditation that sticks out in my mind is, “During the meditation, different thoughts may arise. Invite an investigative quality.”

I’m still investigating my grief.

And I believe that some day when Jesus comes again, I’ll see my dad again, and tell him all about my discoveries.

A Tribute to My Dad on the Anniversary of His Death

Today is the three-year anniversary of the death of my dad. In life, my dad taught me many things, but in death, he continues to teach me, although he is physically no longer with us.

This year, the lesson is mindfulness. Last year, I failed to completely unplug from technology on March 14th, which disrupted the way I wished to honor my dad on the anniversary of his death and left me reeling, enraged, and struggling with unforgiveness for the rest of the year. At first I blamed others for violating such an important day to me. If they only knew what I had been through and what my family had endured after my dad suffered from Alzheimer’s for 12 years, they would not be bugging me via PM on Facebook.

Now I realize I have control over what I take into my life, and what I choose NOT to allow in.

This year, I have decided to completely unplug from technology on March 14th. My phone is in airplane mode. My Kindles are silenced. My email is set to an away message. I won’t be checking Facebook. I especially won’t be responding to private messages. My laptops are off. This very blog post is prescheduled.

Being in the present moment has always been hard for me. I often find myself worried about the future, about work, and about how others have treated me in the past. The Bible tells us not to worry. I’m still working on that.

This year mindfulness is especially important because I have my beautiful baby boy, Jacob Henry, who is 9 months old. Henry was my father’s name.

One thing that I have observed about Little Jacob Henry is that he lives in the present. If he falls and bonks his head, he cries. And then he gets over it.

He eats mindfully. Every new food and texture is an opportunity to learn and explore. He nurses. He clicks his tongue and smacks his lips when he’s done.

He naps. He plays. He drools. He crawls. He giggles. He sighs deeply when he’s bored.

The similarities between babies and the elderly before they part this earth are notable. Jacob Henry wears diapers. So did my dad before he died. Jacob Henry eats mushy foods. So did my dad. Jacob Henry is almost completely reliant on me and my husband as his caregivers. So it was with my dad and my mom, who was an amazing caregiver to him. My dad was a man of few words, but when he spoke it counted. So it is with Jacob Henry. Jacob occasionally says “mama and dada.”

In Jacob Henry is a little bit of my dad, Henry. I wouldn’t have it any other way. They never got to meet each other in life, but they sure are alike.

Today I’ve set the intention to do one thing: breathe. Breath is a gift from God. Now that I have seen my dad take his last breath and have also seen my son take his first breath, the breath has even more significance to me.

Henry Akao and Gina
Jacob Henry Decker, 9 months old, and Gina Decker
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