I wrote this sometime ago, today seemed like a good day to share it.
Although we all live with love and loss, this story is personal. It's about my grandpa. I woke up this morning and realized it was September 25; the anniversary of his passing. I’m 60 and he died when I was 12; it’s been a really long time ago, however his memory is very very real. What a great reminder of the legacy we can leave behind.
Thinking of you Grandpa!
Have you ever lost something you really loved???
I think it is safe to say we all have. Some of you have experienced loss in ways that I cannot even imagine.
Maybe it's my age, or the constant tragedy we see in the news… the fallen police officer who leaves behind a two-year-old son and a beautiful wife, the heart broke parents who once again have lost their child at birth, it's all so sad. Loss is a definite, real part of living. And so is grief. Grief is natural and it is healthy as we process through our emotional wounds.
My first real experience with death came when I was 12 years old. My grandpa (my dad’s dad) died suddenly of a massive stroke. Grandpa had lived with us for as long as I remembered. I'm told that my Grandma "Caroline " died months before my birth. She was young and her unexpected passing was a major shock to my grandpa and family. After she died my parents decided to move in with my grandpa and so began my life! I often wonder if I reminded him of Grandma, since I bore her name. Regardless Grandpa and I were the best of buds. I was quiet and shy in school, but Grandpa made me feel safe and I loved spending time with him. We would often sit on our front porch swing – I would tell stories from school; he would listen. He enjoyed gardening and together we would shell peas or snap green beans. Sometimes we would take long walks in the woods; me double stepping to keep up with his long lengthy stride. To me he was a very tall man!!
The day he died he was sitting in his bedroom, reading my school library book. I even remember the name; it was called "Angel of Mercy". As he stood up to come to dinner that evening he collapsed from a stroke. I remember calling him from the kitchen "Grandpa, supper’s ready…” He never came! Rushed to the hospital, he died later that night. I could not believe Grandpa was gone!
He was 82 years old, he had a good long life, he went quickly, at least he didn't have to suffer, and now he had gone home to be with Grandma… All these statements were true and well-meaning. They felt heartless and unhelpful.
I tried real hard to "keep it together", to not cry and reveal how broken I was. And I managed pretty well until we walked into the funeral. My memory was a fog of somber music, lots of people and the smell of an old country church. Was this real? The tears I could no longer hold back came like flood. While my dad and mom clung to each other, I collapsed into my sweet aunt’s arms. I can remember my Aunt Vernie, tall and strong like Grandpa, holding me up as we walked up the aisle together.
I mourned the heart ache of his death, never talking about it. I wanted to go to his room at night and share a little shot of Mogan David (that was our little secret). I didn't even know it was “wine” until years later; Grandpa just said a little bit was good for me! I longed to show him that I picked our first ripe tomato and I wanted to tell him about passing my history test, I knew he would be proud.
Time did heal and my heartache turned to beautiful memories. I will never forget the date; September 25th when my grandpa went to his eternal home.
I learned a lot from grandpa's death. I read recently that loving changes you, always for good. I believe this is true. Loving grandpa was good – losing him was hard. I know now that God did not put him in my life so I'd have him forever. I do think he intertwined our lives for us to love each other. Loving is good and loving did change me. It made me stronger and it made me weaker in a good way. I'd like to think my grandpa felt the same.
Years have passed and death has since crossed my path a number of times. Some of these times seemed even more difficult then losing Grandpa! It' takes time to sort through all the feelings. That's how grief works; it helps us figure it out and yet reminds us we will never ever figure it all out. But grief is good and grief is normal and it's necessary!
My part is to keep on loving – to keep on letting love change me, to muster through the heart ache and loss that loving brings. Always Trusting. Always Believing. Always Loving.