On my first day of 6th grade I wore a green and black plaid flannel shirt. It was several sizes too big. It was my dads shirt but it had become our community shirt. My brother wore it, I wore it and my dad wore it. My mom was way too smart and pretty to touch the nasty thing. I would roll up the sleeves and wear it with jeans and Reebok white high tops, the ones with the Velcro of course. I have a picture of my brother and I sitting on his bed getting ready to leave for school that day. I was a major tomboy and loved wearing my brother and dads shirts. This one was my favorite because it was so soft. After my dad took his life I was allowed to go to where he was staying and get his belongings. All he had left to his name was a closet full of clothes. I took it all. My sister, aunt and I filled trash bag after trash bag with shirts, pants, shorts, socks and underwear…yes I even took his underwear! I didn’t know at the time what I was going to do with all of these clothes but I wasn’t about to let anyone else get there hands on my dads stuff. Those bags sat in my living room for months before I got my act together and did something about it. One of my dear friends told me about an idea to cut up his clothes and make quilts out of them for all of the kids and another friend offered to make them for me. Talk about blessed! Before I started cutting away, I still had to get the last of his belongings from the evidence room at the police station. We went down there and got the rest of his stuff. Sadly it fit in to one large sturdy black garage bag. His whole life and every single thing that he owned boiled down to 8 trash bags full of clothes. I finally sat down and made the game plan on cutting up the clothes. Bag by bag I opened each one up, laid out each shirt and cut it in to squares. The last bag that I opened was the one from the police station and contained the items that they recovered from his hotel room. There was a brief case in it. I slowly opened it out of fear of what would be inside. You would have to have known my dad to know that there would have been no telling what he had in there. I unzipped the compartment on the side and pulled out thw green and black plaid shirt, the one that I wore on the first day of 6th grade. My first day of 6th grade was l most 25 years ago. Not only did my father still have that shirt, but it was the one that he took off and stuffed in his brief case before he walked to the bathroom and took his life. It was the last shirt that he ever wore. I pulled it out and immediately smelled him on it. I hadn’t smelled him in over 15 years. When I spread it out to cut up I realized that he had shed several of his hairs on it that day and they were stuck in the fabric. I was sitting in my bed with one of the very last things that my father ever touched. I couldn’t help but to put it to my face and smell it over and over. I gently folded it so that the hairs wouldn’t fall out and I put it in the drawer in my night stand. It’s still there and the drawer hasn’t been opened since. I can not take the scissors to it. This is not to glorify my dad or what he did. What he did to himself was his most selfish act and believe me he lived an extremely selfish life. I don’t necessarily cherish it because it was his, I cherish it because my brother wore it, I wore it and our dad wore it. My dad either had terrible fashion sense or that was just the most comfortable shirt ever made..I think its a little of both. Most comforting is that it somehow connected me to my father from 25 years ago and lets me connect to him 25 years later. It’s almost proof to me that I used to be his daughter, I think that I had completely forgotten. I feel like I need it to show people that I really did have a dad. Never once did Jesus forget that He was Gods son. He told everyone no matter what they thought about it. He knew that people thought He was crazy and that was okay with him. Jesus said something that makes me extremely jealous and its probably very wrong to be jealous of Jesus but I can’t help it. Here it is, “I and my Father are one.” John 10:30. I cry when I read it. On one hand it is so amazing. We picture Jesus as Gods son in the literal sense but we are wrong. Jesus and God are the same, they are one. I’m so grateful for that. I’m grateful that Jesus came to show us how to be Gods children and that he gave us clear directions on how to get to heaven and be with our Father. Look at what Jesus had to go through just to get the point across to us. Jesus didn’t need Gods green and black plaid shirt to remind Him who His father was. Jesus walked this earth with next to no possessions and the only thing to remind Him of His father was His faithful heart. He had daily conversations with God. God lived inside of Jesus, they were one. I’m jealous that I need my dads green an black plaid shirt to remind me that he was my father. All my life I wanted to be able to say “Richard is my father and we are one”. Oh to be a daddys little girl, it’s my deepest dream. Do you needs someones green and black plaid shirt? I pray that you don’t but if you do and if its not too late, put down that shirt and make amends. I would much rather have closure, forgiveness, grace and mercy than this shirt. I would have given anything that I have to be able to say the word that Jesus said “I and my Father are one,” I would have given anything to be able to tell anyone that he was my father and not care what they thought. Because God is full of grace and mercy, He reminds me everyday that He is my true Father. God took the place of my earthy father who wasn’t capable of being my dad. Oh thank you loving Father. I know for sure that I don’t need a shirt to prove to anyone that God is my Father. God told me personally that He is my Father, that He will never fail me or leave me. He will never lie to me or run from me. ” I and my Father are one.”- Candice 6:14. Lets pray “Gracious Father, thank you for stepping in and stepping up to be the Father that I so desperately needed in my life. Help me to be able to let go of the green and plaid shirt and let me live with just the good memories. Help me to be strong enough to move on from the need to connect myself to my earthly father. Have mercy on me when I am too weak to handle the ending of my story with my him. In Jesus name, amen”. Don’t hang on to something in the past that will never change, accept it and move forward. God has a plan for us and I promise it is better than anything we could ever imagine. He puts what we call tragedies in our path so that we can grow and learn to lean on Him and not our own understanding. Let go, be free, cut up that hideous late 80’s plaid shirt. Come to think of it, those Reebok bright white velcro high tops were pretty cool. If you need me you can find me searching for them on ebay.