The pain of losing my grandfather isn't quite so breathtaking now. I knew this would happen-- expected it-- and yet, it makes me feel a bit like a traitor.
How can it have only been 4 months, and already, you are forgetting?
Then I remind myself, I am not so much forgetting as remembering. Remembering to live. Remembering to embrace today. Remembering that I was blessed to ever have my small white leather sandals standing atop his heavy, black, all-season work boots while we danced in the barn.
I still measure the journey of the last few months by the milestone of his passing. I suspect that February 18 will always be "the day Papaw died." I just don't know how I will ever forget that. But then again, maybe. Maybe some day it will just be a vague, "He passed in February" or, "It was late winter. Not yet early spring." I don't know if I should hope for this or if I should pray that the date stands there, stark. A memorial in its own right.
Today, as I was scrolling through photos on my computer, I saw this image:
And again, washing over me like a flood were the memories.
This was the last day I saw him alive.
This was the day I drove my Mamaw's van for the first time. (She had never, ever let me drive one of her vehicles before.)
This was the day I fed him a quarter of a piece of chicken-fried steak and two bites of rice pudding.
This was the day I called back home and cried because I had missed Logan's first molar coming out.
This was the day I slipped my phone number to the nurse at the front desk. "I know you have local numbers to call for emergencies. But please ... please ... if he ever asks for me ... please?"
This was the day I read to him from the book of Matthew.
This was the day he almost remembered my name. Almost.
This was the day I walked to the van, but lingered, standing in the heat of the Kentucky sun, watching the shadows move in his room as the nurses helped him into bed, and I hated myself for not being the one to do this-- this simple thing for the man who had carried me as a red-cheeked infant.
This was the day I wished had never happened, but never wanted to end.
On the other side of this loss now, I weigh the freedom that I know my Papaw enjoys as one who professed Christ. I can't for a moment want him back, of course. Back to what? To the shell that betrayed him in his old age? To the failing mind, the hands that refused to cooperate? Back to the strangers that were once the dearest of beloved family members?
No. I don't want him back. I want him to bask in his reward. I want him to once again feel whole, to walk alongside Jesus, and to know what it is to worship fully. I guess that's the work of the healing I've felt for the past quarter of a year. I no longer want him back. But I do miss him. Oh, my heart-- how I miss him.
And I expect I always will.