It’s been one year since we lost you, Grandpa.
One year since the hospital, that funeral service, those frozen dinners, the pastor visitors, the somber living room, the crying in your closet.
In that one year, I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you on the couch, chatting about life, chewing on peanuts with a football game in the background. I’ve missed you at family dinners, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve missed seeing you standing in the kitchen, in your suit, ready for church at least twenty minutes before everyone else. I’ve missed hearing your order for decaf coffee, your quiet presence at the dining room table while we play Chinese checkers.
I remember so clearly the events that happened right before we got that phone call, while playing on the monkey bars with my cousin Zachary, that you were gone.
Two days prior to your death, I was sitting in my living room with fellow leaders from our neighborhood community, praying and visioning about our future together and where we were sensing God’s leading. As we prayed, I had an overwhelming sense of calm – and gratitude – for my life. I thought about the runs I take in the neighborhood, stopping at friends’ houses and chatting in between Spanish and English. Grandpa, I forget sometimes what I’ve prayed for, and then it hits me that God is already at work answering the prayers. I am telling you that now, because it’s something I’ve learned more about this past year than I have ever before – and I wish I could tell you that in person.
A few hours later, I got the call from my mom that you were coming home from the hospital to be put on hospice. I got the call in the car as we were driving home from a restaurant, surrounded by friends. It didn’t sink in, and I went about the evening casually, not thinking about the hours that were to come.
And then the tears fell, and then audible sobs.
I’m not ready to say goodbye, I told my friend as she held me. I’m just not ready.
The next morning I walked into St. Joseph’s Hospital and within a matter of minutes was a puddle of tears. I think back to these moments Grandpa, and can just see you looking at us wanting to say “stop crying! don’t worry about me!” You weren’t one for expressing emotions, so I laugh a little to myself thinking how frustrated you probably would have been watching us. You probably would have said – go get coffee, go do something fun, go read a book. Don’t mind me, I’ll be fine. You hated being fussed over.
I wrote last year about the work of the people – the people who held you, and held us – as you left. I remember those moments so vividly. I’ll never forget my dad’s calmness in that hospital room, or the way my mom took care of you, watching the machines read oxygen levels and knowing what it meant. I remember the phone ringing and the frozen meals and the flowers that decorated grandma’s hallway.
I think I read some verse from Philippians to you that afternoon as I held your arm in the hospital bed. I think it was the same verse that I read at your funeral — about God beginning the good work in us and bringing that to completion. And I think I told you in that moment, that I was thankful for your example of the good work — and that God was doing a good work within me.
Grandpa, he’s still doing the good work. A year later.
I wish I could tell you that over peanuts and diet coke, on your couch in the late Saturday afternoon. I wish I could tell you that after swimming in your pool and eating your BBQ’d chicken. I wish I could tell you that over decaf coffee at Panera after church.
One year later, and I like to think that you’d be proud of me and the woman I am. I like to think about how we would debate various current events (it is political season, after all), but how much you respected my opinion, and how much I valued your’s. I like to think that you’d be smiling, quietly, as I tell you about what I’m learning at work and church and in my neighborhood. I like to think you’d ask good good questions, as you always did, and that you’d listen closely to the answers I’m discovering.
God started the good work in you, Grandpa. He continues it in your children and their children. And it’s not yet completed.
I love you. and I miss you.