Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Any of you who know me well, know that my grandfather meant the world to me. There is no one else who can ever possibly fill the special place he had in my heart; there’s nothing else to say except that he will always be irreplaceable. It’s been 21 months since he’s been gone, but I’ve been thinking about him more than usual since we’ve known about Poppy. On that day in July when we got the news, I began missing him all over again. At first, I was sad because I wanted so badly to be able to tell him, and hug him, and have him just to be there. But since that initial wave of emotions, I’ve been struck on several occasions by the fact that even though he’s not here, he still teaches and encourages me by the example he set for me all my life.
There are so many things that could be said about Papa, but to me one of the striking characteristics of his life was his positive attitude and his determination to have joy in every situation and circumstance. When he was in the hospital for gallbladder surgery, he was found jumping up and down in the bed. When he was recovering from open-heart surgery, I never once saw him down. When he was undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer, he took me out in a speedboat and drove like a wild teenager and laughed until tears ran down his cheeks. When speaking of his chemo he told us, "It's kind of like a hobby for me." He had a gift. His enthusiasm and love for life were contagious, and they drew people to him.
When I was about seven, my mom and sister and I went through a crisis in our lives, but through that very dark year, I remember so clearly how much fun Papa brought to my life. We would race home from church, watch silly movies, play monopoly, watch his favorite cartoon “Roadrunner”, and just plain have fun. That’s not to say that Papa ignored the seriousness of the situation or looked down upon crying or expressing grief, because no one could have been more compassionate. He simply taught me at an early age that even in the times of greatest sadness, it is okay to laugh and live life.
All of this came rushing back to me a few days ago when I realized that I had subconsciously been walking around with an obligation to be somber. At the doctor’s office when I walked in and the receptionist asked me how I was, I found myself responding in a subdued tone that I was okay. When I went about my errands, I realized I felt a need to let the weight of the situation filter out into my mannerisms and expressions. There’s no other way to say it except that I felt that I needed to maintain an attitude of gravity. Then all of the sudden while I was driving in the car, something in my mind triggered a memory about Papa, and everything about his love of life and laughter flooded over me. In fact, I started laughing at myself as I drove along. It dawned on me that God has been giving me a supernatural peace and strength, and to ignore that by trying to put on a seriousness that I wasn’t even feeling is just plain, ugly ingratitude for what He is doing in my heart. The truth is, I am experiencing a wide gamut of emotions, but throughout most of my days, the primary emotion is not grief. It comes in waves and it hits me at unexpected moments, and in those moments, I know it is okay to cry and call out to Jesus. But, in the meantime, I feel such a freedom in knowing that God wants me to live. He wants me to have happy and wonderful moments in the middle of this dark time in our lives. I feel it from the bottom of my heart, and so now, I’m focused on just being honest with my emotions. When I am happy, I want to be happy without any guilt, and when I am sad, I want to feel the freedom to express that as well. I read a verse that confirmed this in my heart this morning. It is from Psalm 116:9, and it says “I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”
There are dark moments ahead of us, and I pray God that He begins right now to prepare us to handle the force of those waves of grief that are to come, but for now, He has given me Poppy, and I want to rejoice in the time I have. I don’t take one little kick or movement for granted. I don’t know how much time God will give us with her, but I know I have her today. And when Jesus takes her home, I already have a comfort in knowing that Papa will be there to welcome her to heaven.