The other day, a friend posted something that said, “If you had an hour to spend talking with someone, who would it be with” (or something like that). I immediately thought of my dad, Paul Bonde. And since then, at different moments, I’ve thought about him, and most of those thoughts have traveled with tears, tears that flow like a river inside but barely show on the outside, tears that speak of joy, sadness, hope. Because I’ve been feeling so much about it, I thought I’d share it with you.
For many reasons, my dad and I had lost contact, but in 2005, I had a desire to change that. What caused the change? I had quit drinking. It was Thanksgiving day, and I had ninety-four days sober. One of the older kids was working on a family tree. Because I kept so distant, I couldn’t help them much to fill in the branches of this tree, so I thought it’d be nice to connect with my dad, let him get to know the kids, and finally be a daughter to him. It didn’t go as planned.
The phone rang and rang, and finally, his wife answered (who never liked me). When I asked to speak to him, she said, “He’s dead!” and hung up on me. What? I was in disbelief, so I called back. When she answered again, I said, “This is Laura, Paul’s daughter. You just told me that my dad was dead.” She said, “Yeah, he’s dead!” and hung up on me again. I was undone.
As I was sitting there, stunned, my boyfriend said, “Are you okay? What do you want to do?” I said, “Drink. I want to drink to make the pain go away,” so I headed to an AA meeting and never did drink. It turned out that he had died a year and a half prior. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had talked to him. I still can’t, but since seeing that post, I’ve been remembering some good things.
I remember when he taught me how to ride a bike without training wheels. I didn’t realize he was going to let go. I was doing good, until I turned my head to glance back at him and found he wasn’t there. I fell. I remember coming home from school one day, and he had lunch waiting. It was slices of white bread with brown gravy on top. It was the best food ever because he made it. I remember holding his hand. I remember being a little girl, trying to match his long strides with my little steps. I remember his laugh, his giggles, his eyes: they used to smile when he did. To remember has touched my heart.
If I could sit with him for an hour, I’d tell him about Jesus, about how He’s given me a perfect heart that enables me to love well. I wouldn’t give him the pain of my past, I’d tell him what it’s like now. I’d ask him his favorite color, his favorite season. I would “be” love for him. I’d tell him about the kids and how amazing they are. It would be an amazing hour.
It’s been so good to remember him. The best part is, if a negative memory arises, it flees immediately, as if God, Himself, is removing it and letting me relish in the good ones. When I first found out, I was so mad at God for keeping it from me, but then, He told me why. If I had found out at the time he passed away, I might’ve drank myself to death, too. He graciously waited until I was strong enough to know without drinking. There’s nothing better than being sober and becoming Love. It’s a life worth living.