The time finally came, when that last breath was breathed, and the next moment I had feared the most was upon us.
We sat all four years of him down, on his Da-da’s lap, on the couch. Three of us together – sit down your cars sweetie and let’s talk for a little while.
I heard the words I never wanted to say come out of my husband’s mouth, tears on his cheeks, tears on mine.
The Bear listened quiet, intense. Turned away slightly, leaned his curved back deep into HH’s chest.
We saw a face on him we’d never seen before. He was deep in a far-away land, the synapses in his brain weaving together an understanding of what all this really meant.
They tried the best they could, but G-pa’s gone.
Based on what we’d read and heard, we did our best not to be confusing – to say it all straight. Using real words like “death” and “died” instead of “passed on” or “no longer with us.” Strange how simple words just made of letters can feel like sharp swords on a tongue. Especially if you have to say them to ears so small, ears so young.
He thought for a long time. We tried to do more to explain, we stayed quiet, three of us together.
He turned, resolute, but gentle, faith like a child said, “But, I’m going to save the day.”
If only. If only.
My heart swelled, proud, blessed, sad, sad.
Trying to explain my tears a little later on I offered, “G-pa was my Da-da… so I am very sad.”
He took it in, straight to heart. And hope counter-offered, “Uncle Russ can be your Da-da now.”
I wasn’t ready to let go of the tulips in my hand at the burial – green stems and leaves, buds still closed so tight I don’t know what color they were going to be. He turned and said, “You can put your flowers up there, Mama.”
“Will you do it for me, my boy?” I asked.
Gently, careful, there he laid them with Aunt Dodi’s, Uncle Russ’s.
I stared for a long time, stayed still and wiped tears.
Here we are with a new day, a new week, and there is hope. Always.
We talk of Easter, and he comes home from church with brightly coloured eggs in a carton, numbered to stay in order, each symbolizing a moment of the Easter story. I’m trying hard to re-engage. We rehearse what the things inside mean – the donkey, because Jesus rode one into Jerusalem, the cup, wine from the passover meal, a thorny branch, the crown of thorns.
Gloriously beautiful – number 12 is empty.
I’m surprised to see a toothpick-sword, and stumble to explain Jesus on the cross. How the blood and the water flowed from his side — a mighty declaration: we are forgiven, our debt is paid, we are free, we are clean.
It’s only later he stops me with the question: Did they poke G-pa’s side when he died?
Oh, no, I’m eager to explain. Looking for words, think quick, think quick. When G-pa died, it was very peaceful. I breathe slowly. In—out—in—-out—-. I close my eyes. It was just like falling asleep. A few more breaths, eyes still gently shut, I smile.
So dying is like going to sleep?
Kind of, yes. It was very peaceful.
Not long after, some words found me. About a man and his wife, at the hospital and all was well. She’d given birth the day before to their first, precious baby girl, and she’d rested from her c-section and twenty-four hours passed, and the time came, joy of joys, the wheelchair came to take her to meet that face she’d probably dreamed of. She stood to take the seat, complained of being dizzy, passed out and was gone. A pulmonary embolism, and that was it. He was left to head home from the hospital, precious baby girl, Mama gone.
He says he used to be a cynic, but he’s not anymore. He finds himself giving motivational speeches to bank tellers.
And all of this swells my heart, near breaking to say: Hope, there you are. Hope, you keep on finding me. I could sit right here and count 10,000 gifts in those 64 years. Oh the stories I will tell — there was lots of time, and a lot of it was spent well. I have less regrets than many, maybe more hope than many more.
This is life and there is loss, but gosh, if you can frame it all with thankfulness, then you’ll see hope, then you’re see the whole picture.
Just a special note to mention one of These Awesome Quilts I Told Ya About Right Here is being given away RIGHT HERE! Stop over at Megan’s blog to enter the giveaway before 3/31, or visit her Etsy Shop and start dreaming up the perfect quilt for someone you love! The proceeds will help with the costs of their upcoming international adoption. Awesomesauce.