Dear Grandpa,

Sometimes it hits me like a ton of bricks, stopping me in my tracks: the fact that you’re not coming home. The fact that your seat is still empty at the dining room table, the spot you always used to sit on the couch, the vacation places we used to go to together, the front seat of the car where you used to drive.

You’re really gone.

I don’t know what to make of this reality — this reality of absence. There is a deep ache there, and there will be weeks where it doesn’t reach my consciousness, and other times it overflows my heart with such sadness.

I’ve lived my whole life knowing that you loved me, admiring your example, playing under your roof and in your pool, eating your BBQ’d chicken and attending church in the pews you and Grandma called your Sunday home. This was my reality — the patterns, the routines, what I expected as I drove down the 101 to the 405 or the 5 to the 22. I know these routines like the back of my hand; they’re apart of me.

I don’t know these new routines – I don’t know the empty chair, the un-read Wall Street Journal, the empty office, those big reading glasses not being used, the closet filled with un-worn clothes. I don’t know the cell phone number that won’t ring anymore and the email address that won’t be responded to, the bottles of peanuts left un-eaten in the pantry.

I’m confused by this reality of life without you.

I read this recently and it made me think of you. It’s from a book called Lament for a Son and was posted on one of my favorite blogs.

If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over.  Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides. So I won my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it…Every lament is a love-song

You were worth loving, Grandpa. Grieving your loss is a testament to how much love you gave and how much of it I miss. Maybe there’s also some form of comfort in grieving your absence — because your “worth abides.” It abides in my heart, in the hearts of my family and your friends.

Your worth abides when my mom sees the big freight ships on the Seattle harbor and thinks of you, and how you would have loved that kind of view. It abides when I walked along the streets of Victoria in June, remembering that last time we were here I was 16 and sharing a room with you and Grandma on the cruise ship. Your worth abides when I held little Samuel Robert, your namesake, for the first time and thought about how much you would have loved meeting your great grandson.

Anne Lamott writes beautiful words about grief. I don’t think you would have particularly liked her writing, Grandpa, because it is often raw and crass — but that’s the reason I like her so much. She says that “grief ends up giving you the two best gifts: softness and illumination.” (Small Victories, p35).

My prayer is for softness, Grandpa. I hope for illumination, too, I suppose. But the prayer for softness resonates even more so for me. There’s a lot of loss in this life and I never want to become too hardened by it or too overwhelmed or scared. I want to be soft — able to soak up the good things, to keep moving in the midst of the hard parts of life, and to treat people with kindness.


I will always miss you.

Love always,



2 thoughts on “Letters

  1. How very lovely that you had such a connection of a grandparent relationship, Alyssa. To love means most likely at some point to grieve. We must not get stuck in that, but move through it, so that we can also remain open to our other love relationships, including just the simple love moments of life, today. Suzanne


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