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MEEKER I It wasn’t a typical Father’s Day for Paul Martin.
Not that any of his days are typical. Not anymore.
They are all a mix of emotions. There’s sadness, combined with thankfulness. Sadness because of what he lost. Thankfulness because of what he still has.
But this was Martin’s first Father’s Day without his son.
Stone Martin died Jan. 20. He died the day after he was seriously injured in a two-vehicle accident, just outside of Meeker on Highway 13. He would have celebrated his 10th birthday April 21.
“I felt a little detached,” Paul Martin said of his first Father’s Day since Stone died. “But as the day continued, I began to realize those things like, that Stone is with the Father. To me, Father’s Day is every day. That puts things in perspective.
“My heavenly Father, that’s who my father pointed me to,” Paul Martin said of his father, Jerry, who used to be the minister at the Church of Christ in Meeker.
Paul followed in his father’s footsteps. He’s the minister at the Church of Christ now.
“I thought there would be another generation,” Paul said. “But Stone went straight there (to heaven). He bypassed all of us. What I always wanted for my children was to raise them to be with the Lord. He (Stone) ended up where I wanted him, just earlier than I thought.”
Since Stone’s death, it has given Paul Martin a different perspective about heaven.
“I’ve had a different relationship with the Father and a deeper longing, knowing my son is there,” Paul said. “That’s the closest I get to Stone, when I worship with fellow believers, because when we’re bowing before the throne, before the Father, Stone’s there.”
Paul Martin preached Sunday, on Father’s Day.
“It was just like any other Sunday,” Martin said. “I was afraid if I tried to preach on fathers, it would be too much on me. The congregation knows how I feel about the Father. There will come a time when I will address some other stuff about Stone. All I can say is my son is in heaven. He won’t have to go through the same sufferings and pains I’ve experienced and that others experience.”
Martin spent Father’s Day without his family. His wife Vanessa and daughter Alahna were out of town visiting relatives.
Being alone — especially on Father’s Day — wasn’t easy.
“I was battling personal depression anyway (before the accident). This has had a tendency to exacerbate a few issues. “But I think I’m gaining some momentum. I’m trying to get back to a routine that accepts his (Stone’s) loss and moves forward,” Martin said. But that’s difficult, especially with Vanessa and Alahna not here. The house is kind of empty. I know he (Stone) is not coming back with them. There are still those reminders. They will always be there.”
As a family, Paul said the Martins are healing, but it will take time.
“We’ve been addressing our health,” Paul Martin said. “Alahna, she’s what’s most important about this. It’s more about her, not pity. That’s one of the joys that God has given to us, to focus on Alahna. The challenge is to know how to help your spouse grieve, and how to do that yourself. I found it’s an individual thing. They say time heals all wounds. You throw some love in there and hopefully the scar won’t be so jagged. I think we’re at the stage where the wound is not so open. Hopefully we can give each other all the love we need to help that huge wound heal. We all suffered it. We all can relate to the experience. We’re all missing him.”
Alahna, who will be a seventh-grader, suffered serious injuries in the accident and spent three weeks in the hospital before coming home. But because of head trauma, Alahna wasn’t up to returning to school full time. Vanessa, who was driving at the time of the accident, suffered minor injuries. Paul Martin was at work the morning of the accident.
“She (Alahana) is doing phenomenally well. We’re going to continue to address the cognitive aspect of it,” Paul Martin said of his daughter. “I think she will advance with her class. But she will probably do some special classes for certain subjects. We already have a special teacher we’ve been working with. The whole school system has worked wonderfully with us.”
Meanwhile, Martin spent Father’s Day, like he does every day, learning to live with loss.
“When I get angry, I try to get angry at death,” he said. “The best way I can fight against death is to live life. That’s what I’m trying to do.”