Today is the first day of October.

These past few months have included a season of firsts.

First child graduating high school.

First child going to college.

First time for me checking the “50-59” box.

Joyful and celebratory moments.

But this particular week on the calendar takes me back to a season of lasts.

Even though eight years have passed since Dad’s death, these moments continue to be raw as if they happened yesterday..

Fall marks the end of one season and the beginning of another in many ways for me.

My body is flooded with memories and emotions as I enter the room where Dad and Mom lived out their last years.

The green leather couch remains and my body settles into the place where Dad last sat.

It is in this room where Dad ate his last meal from the Snydersville Diner.

How I miss going there for lunch with him, eating at ‘the big table,” as he liked to call it.

It is here we had our last conversation and he smiled at me for the last time.

How I miss our talks about anything and everything.

How I miss his smile.

In this room, Dad drew his last breath.

How I miss his presence each and every day.

His last night is not something I talk about often.

To see the shell lying in that rented hospital bed that was once a strong able body, knowing that as each moment passed, Dad was slipping further and further away was a painful image.

His last hours were so restless.

He could not seem to get comfortable.

My mother stroked his head.

My sister rubbed his arm and held his hand.

I curled up beside him to try to calm him.

We spoke softly to him, prayed over him.

At one point, he raised his arms and said :

“Lift me up, lift me up.”

My mother, sister and I were at a loss of what to do.

And then we knew.

We were all holding onto him.

The husband and father could not let go.

He was between two seasons.

One at a time, we quietly left his bedside.

We all remained in the room, keeping watch from a distance.

His body began to relax.

And just as the leaves fall from the trees, there was a gentle letting go.

A change of seasons.

As I reflect on those last moments with him, I know deep in my heart he was getting ready to enter a season of firsts.

First time in his new body, free of pain or discomfort.

First time being reunited with family members and friends who had gone on before him.

First time seeing Jesus.

Joyful and celebratory moments.

Friends, there will be many seasons of firsts and lasts.

But God reminds us in His word that there is a season for everything in our lives.

“For everything there is a season,

    a time for every activity under heaven. 

A time to be born and a time to die.

    A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

    A time to tear down and a time to build up. 

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

    A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

    A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 

A time to search and a time to quit searching.

    A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.

    A time for war and a time for peace.”  Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NLT

Friends, I do not know what season of life you are in at this moment.

Some seasons are joyful, others more painful and raw.

But in every season, He is with us.