Happy Father's Day! I am grateful for the many awesome dads in my life. These kind of Holidays seem to be tough for many because they bring up emotions of joy, love and grief. But I do love any day to celebrate something and believe we are meant to experience joy amongst the heartache and so I hope if today bring sadness you are also able to find peace and joy.
I am grateful for my dad who is the very best, in case you were wondering :) I have shared before about the card he has always carried in his pocket.
On one side it says,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.
On the other it says,
So pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon you and trust God to do the rest
When we have done all we know to do, God will do the rest.
He ( and my mom )have given me the gift of faith in this lesson in the way he has lived his life and I am so grateful for this, especially as I have walked this road with Mike.
My dad and my mom welcomed a young man, Will Dunbar , in their home 20 years ago. Together they believed in him and loved him like their own son. They taught us what God's grace looks like. He became a brother to Wes, Rob, and me.
We celebrated his life yesterday. He died in a tragic shooting two weeks ago. Our hearts were broken and we have wondered why his life was ended by this senseless act of hatred. Gun violence makes me sick at my stomach and now even more so that is has touched our family this closely.
But a devotion I read this morning quoted Rainer Maria Rilke was another reminder and God wink on how I need to let go of wondering why this happened to him and why his life was cut short.
"Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves"
In other words, do not lean on your own understandings, but surrender to God when you do not understand.
This seems to be the case in all things currently happening in our lives. Especially in the world of Leukemia.
I bombard poor Dr. Kota, with so many questions... What the heck is happening to Mike's lungs?? Is it an infection, is it GVHD, is is Leukemia?? I promise him every time, I will be patient ....eek , not sure how well I am doing. ha
But as I have said before, he too is a teacher to me and Mike about being patient and allowing time to take course to unanswered questions. A true gift on this journey.
And damn if Leukemia isn't trying to teach us that too.
We could always use some extra prayers as Mike will have a PET scan a week from Monday ! He is fighting infections in his lungs and feeling worse than usual. But still has his sense of humor as I always annoy him and text him, how is your breathing??
" In and out" has become his answer every time. So I give thanks to God that air is still going in and out :)
I wrestle with questions and plead for answers and they don't come.
So I go back to the lesson my dad has taught me in teaching me Proverbs 3:5-6.
I am grateful for him and this wisdom he taught me , that it is ok to surrender and to believe that God is ultimately in control.
I pray you can let go of the answers today and just live with those in the moment. I pray you can find joy in the journey , amongst the grief. And to maybe even love the questions . But if not at least love on those you are with.
I am attaching what I wrote about Will and was honored to say at celebration of life as a tribute to him through our grief. It was an Honor to be a part of his life and as hard as it was to see Wes and Rob as pallbearers, it hit home as to why we love people as deeply as we do in our time here on this earth. Will deserves to be honored and praised.
“Grief expressed out loud, whether in or out of character, unchoreographed and honest, for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.”
I am so grateful for being given the opportunity to speak today. Today ....I’m sharing our deep love for Will Dunbar, for OUR Willie D!
I am speaking on behalf of Wes and Rob , my dad and .....
my mom who is better known as Mrs Pizzo by Will .
Also from our entire family, who loved him as their own.
Willie D fleeted into our lives like a true angel , back 20 years ago when Wes and him met at Henderson Middles school and quickly became the best of friends .
Both Athletes ...basketball brought them together. However after reading so many beautiful tributes to his life , I’m convinced it was his infectious smile that pulled us all in ... making us all instantly fall in love with him.
I believe he used it to his advantage the summer he lived with us , to talk my mom into cooking just about anything for him from ribs to bow tie pasta or to go pick him up a chicken Carbonara sandwich from Quiznos every day . She wouldn’t change it for the world.
It wasn’t just his smile though ,
It was his thoughtful , kind and giving heart ( as my dad describes him) but also his love for his family ( his own dad , his mom Judy, and siblings chris , cecily and Jamir.)
His love for HIS people and love for life was contagious. Our family was lucky and grateful to catch the Will Love bug too. I picture him best playing football in our front yard with all the little cousins on holidays.
It was the way he loved our family and brought light and joy to our home that made you want to be with him any chance you got. Those summer days and nights with him under our roof are some of our most joyful and best memories.
Our family has rehashed all our Will stories over the past two weeks , most of them have made us laugh out loud and some cry. We have been instructed to two minutes and that doesn’t give us enough time to share them all and some we won’t embarrass him with today :) but we will cherish and continue to share these stories on our days ahead to keep him alive in our hearts.
He accomplished much in his short 34 years here. He was an all star athlete. A UAB blazer on the field and graduated from the classroom ( with the help from Jenna, Wes and Rob.....they will confirm he liked the field a little better, haha :)
But he worked is butt off and graduated.
Perseverance. Another word I have heard many use to describe will in the past couple weeks.
He had every bit of perseverance, determination and a “ strong Will”.
To overcome whatever tough life challenge came his way. And he over came quite a few.
It didn’t matter how tough the situation was , he never gave up, never quit.
And .....what touches me the most , is he NEVER lost his beautiful smile amongst it all.
I shared these lyrics from Chris Stapleton song “Broken halos” on Facebook and continue to believe it stands true for describing what Will
Meant to our family.
“Angels come down
From the heavens
Just to help us on our way
Come to teach us
Then they leave us
And they find some other soul to save”
He was a true angel on this earth that flew into our family disguised in basketball shoes , dreadlocks , black skin , and a pearly white grin that could light up the darkest night.
He came to save us.
Each one of us.
He taught us that everyone has a story. That racism should NEVER be tolerated. That we are all humans bleeding the same red blood no matter the outward appearance.
He taught me compassion.
He taught me what the grace of God truly looks like.
Wes, Rob, and I said matter of factly that he hands down made us better people. And for that we are forever grateful that God blessed us with a black brother from another mother :)
And though we grieve and do not understand why he left us early and while we will miss him deeply , we have a “ STRONG Will “ in our hearts forever.
And will use the true grit he taught us to overcome struggles we face ahead. And we will do it with a smile on our face, for him.
I believe he is saving many souls today just like he did in his short time here and that he will continue for years and years to come.
Will was nothing but love and light.
And so I remember this quote by MLK JR.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
We keep loving for Will. His love light will shine bright in each one of us forever.