August 18, 2014

saying goodbye...

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On Friday, I went to the hospital to say goodbye to my grandpa. On Sunday, he went to be with Jesus. It was a long weekend for much of my family, and even now I'm left with so many emotions about the entire thing. To be honest, this is the first time I've been able to see a loved one age, grow weak and ill, and then reach the end of their life. But, as it turns out, it's not necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it has opened my heart a lot. As cliché as it may sound, it's given me a clearer view of things…of life, family, relationships, my faith.

When I first moved to California ten years ago, I lived with my grandpa and grandma for almost two years—moving out only after Jay and I were married. In that time, I was able to actually get to know my grandpa. It's one thing to see a relative every couple years on vacation, to receive christmas gifts and an annual happy-birthday phone call…but it's another to have daily conversations with them. To see them more often than your parents, even. To realize that grandparents are actually quite hilarious and thoughtful and energetic and creative and filled with stories that you really want to hear. And even some stories you'll never get to hear.

I remember seeing so much of my dad in my grandpa, after having lived with him for quite some time. I realized how many of my dad's mannerisms come from his dad. Silly phrases, certain facial expressions, the way he tells stories…even the way he blinks, nods and sets his mouth in a line when he doesn't know what to say. My dad has his dad's eyes, and it was always comforting to see that in my grandpa when I was feeling especially homesick in the early years.

During the past couple years, as my grandpa became much more weak, I couldn't help but realize the bigger picture of why I moved to California so many years ago. Looking back, I can see in a very self-centered way how moving here is what I was meant to do. I needed to step out of my comfort zone and see more of the world, discover independence, meet and marry the man who was made for me. But I can now see what an important part my relatives here have played in the past decade of my life, and how my moving here was so important for more than just me and my own life.

Eisley was the only great-grandchild my grandpa was able to watch grow up before his eyes. He was even able to hold her when she was one day old. She had such a sweet relationship with him, even up until the past few weeks. It was very refreshing to see a child so young and innocent, because they don't know anything is wrong or that any sadness is around the corner. She'd just run into great-grandpa and great-grandma's house, hop over to great-grandpa's big chair, give him a hug, and offer him a cup of make-believe tea like he was anyone else in her life. She didn't tiptoe around him, or worry too much, or not know what to say.

I think that comforted everyone. I think that he needed that light in his days.

I'm so grateful for the relationship I had with my grandpa—one that I couldn't have ever had without having been here. I'm grateful for his humor, his wisdom, that he gave me my dad. I'm grateful he got to know Eisley and Jay, and that I have a decade of not only big memories with him, but also the simpler, day-to-day ones.

It's so hard to say goodbye to someone you love. But there's nothing like having the peace of knowing that he is now once again strong, joyful, without pain. And I'll get to see him again someday.

This is the first time in my adult life that I've been faced with death in this way, with someone so close to me. It has made me so aware of how short life is, and how at the end of it all, the only people who matter are the ones that keep you in their hearts every day, even after you're gone. 

6 comments :

  1. Oh what sweet memories! My grandparents were a huge part of my life growing up, too. As you said, it is hard to say goodbye to someone you love. So sorry to hear about your loss, but I pray that your memories will continue to bless and comfort you as mine have done for me.

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  2. Even when it's a grandparent who has lived a long, good life and you know it's the right thing - saying goodbye is hard. I wish I could give you a hug!

    I went through losing all of my grandparents within two years when I was in college. We also lived with my grandmother for over three years so I appreciated her much more.

    We said goodbye to David's grandmother last year. She had become very special to me and she also had a wonderful relationship with Meredith. Now only his Pappy is left, who has dementia but still adores her.

    How is Eisley doing with the situation? Meredith still talks about Gigi who is "in heaven with God, singing."

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  3. I'm sorry for your loss. My grandmother died a few months ago and it was/is a hard thing to deal with. Like you, I am grateful for the relationship we had and I am really glad she is no longer in pain, but instead is with her Jesus. Knowing those two things has made it a lot easier to accept. XO!

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  4. My heart just breaks for you and your family, Kerri! I am so very sorry. What a true blessing that you were able to live with and then so close to your grandparents for all those years. Such important years! I hope you are able to hold onto those memories and that they comfort you when your heart hurts the most. Hugs to you, my friend! I will be praying for comfort and peace for you and your family.

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  5. Beautiful thoughts. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  6. I'm so sorry for the loss you and your family are experiencing. The words you wrote about your grandpa are beautiful. How lucky that he got to know Eisley and that you had the chance to live with your grandparents. The last paragraph you wrote really got to me... life is short and nothing is more important than our loved ones. Sending hugs your way. xo

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