Losing a loved one is never easy. Growing up, I didn’t have any understanding of it. It honestly seemed like something that happened in other families, but not mine. It was so far beyond my understanding and yet looking back, there was loss all around me. The boy in second grade who lost his mom to cancer, friends who lost grandparents, some who have lost far more, far sooner.
The past 10 years, we’ve experienced those losses. Grandparents, friends, my nephew. Gone. It puts an ache in my heart that I simply cannot put words to. I don’t think it really ever matters how old someone is when they pass away because that loss is felt deeply by those who loved them the most. Sure, we take comfort in knowing that the more life lived, the more life could be lived well and fully but our hearts? They don’t measure the years, they only feel the memories and finality of death. No new memories to mold into our hearts. Death truly is an end to our earthly understanding. Yes, we have heaven to look forward to but so few of us will ever experience a taste of that before we find ourselves there. So all we’re left with is what we know now. And for many of us, part of that knowing is the pain of goodbye.
My grampa went to be with his God last week. My last grandparent to leave us. The loss, though not unexpected, has still hit us deeply and profoundly. Never again in this life will I hear his laugh or his stories or feel his hugs. Gone are those opportunities to tell him I love him. In an instant, everything changes.
I know he knew how much I loved him. I know he knew that I wish I could have spent more time with him, just as I understood his need to not be seen and remembered toward the end. The man I remember is ageless to me. The man I remember came home from his job at the bakery with fresh peanut butter cookies and a smile. The man I remember took such delight in being a grandparent and loving his grandchildren. The man I remember had a wicked sense of humor and loved to push the limits to what he should say in front of his impressionable grand kids. The man I remember loved his family fiercely and his God faithfully. When he lost his vision, his freedom and his beloved wife, he remained faithful to his God. Sure, he had dark times, who doesn’t? But he never stopped living, he just paused now and then.
The man I remember exemplified the relationship I pray my kids will have with their grandparents. That same love, adoration and the endless smiles and excitement that come from an anticipated visit. I want those memories to be alive in my kids’ hearts as they are in mine. Those experiences, those laughs, the mischief.
The man who left us will be wonderfully remembered. The man who left us has been beautifully restored. The man who left us will be reunited with us one day soon.
Goodbye…until we meet again Grampa. Rest peacefully in the eternity promised you and the hope you never lost.