My grandpa died this past spring. Before that my godparents both died. It’s been a tough year. It’s been hard on a lot of people, but right now, for this moment, I’m going to focus on me.
I knew my Grandpa was going to die. I thought I was prepared. I thought I could handle it with grace.
I was wrong.
I don’t cry. The staunch German side of me dominates my exterior personality, but inside my passionate French side cuts deeply and bleeds hard, and the bruises linger. Still, I don’t cry.
But when Grandpa died, I cried.
I cried in front of my children. I cried in front of cousins and siblings and uncles. I cried in front of strangers. I stood in front of church and in the funeral home and in the cemetery and in the shower and I sobbed. Sometimes, months later, after social sympathy has diminished and people expect you to be “over it” and to “move on,” I have to stop singing a hymn in church, because I know that inhuman guttural sobs will rise from some deep hidden pit of human sorrow I didn’t know existed and force their way out if I don’t clamp my jaw shut with all my mortal strength. (That’s a little melodramatic, I know.)
When I see a full church parking lot and a funeral procession lined up, the empathy aroused by the communal grief of all those people nearly suffocates me. I still lie in bed in the dark when everyone else is asleep and let the pain and hurt of losing one of my very favorite people win out, and I cry. Nobody hears me then. Nobody knows…except now all of cyberspace–that irony is not lost on me.
My grandpa was always there. I know people say that all the time, but right now, remember, we’re focusing on me. My grandpa is the only man who has stood beside me my entire life, who has supported, scolded, trained, and loved me, regardless of circumstances. He was there when others gave up.
He was there to give me my first pony, to teach me to work hard, to let me be his shadow and have a hero. He was there when I showed my horse, when I added another candle to my cake, when I walked over fields and across stages and down aisles. In fact, he walked me down the aisle and handed me over to Steve and told him to take care of me…because that’s what Grandpa always did–take care of everyone. He was still there after years of marriage and children, when I wanted nothing more than to sit quietly on the couch and read the paper and not talk…he was there.
He taught me that love was an action, not just a word, a commitment, not just a feeling. He wasn’t big on emotion. When I told him I loved him, he said, “Yup,” and sometimes, “Same here, Kid.” A couple times in more recent years he opened up about how he felt about me, just a sentence or two–words that will never leave me.
But he left me.
Grandpa is gone.
When parents tell their children that someone who died isn’t really gone, because the love and the memories are still there, and that person will always be a part of them, that’s a bunch of empty malarkey. It’s hooey. It’s fluffy fluff. What comfort is there in memories? What hope is there for the future thinking all that’s left of Grandpa is a warm and fuzzy in my heart and a memory of his chocolate malts? What do fluffy bunny thoughts and meaningless trite phrases about love never dying give a child?
When I miss Grandpa, I’m sad, I’m hurting deeply, but I’m not despairing. I have hope. When my widowed grandmother no longer has a hand to hold and my children no longer have Big Bubba to sneak them candies, they are not despairing. They are sad, but they have hope–real hope.
My grandpa trusted Christ Jesus as his Savior. He knew he blew it over and over and over. He didn’t often say “sorry” in words, but he said it in other ways, in Grandpa’s ways. He knew he needed a bridge to close the gap between himself and God, between death and life. And he had that in Christ Jesus.
People tell me I’m doing my children a disservice by raising them as Christians instead of “letting them find their own truth.” I wonder what kind of parent I would be if I gave them fleeting fluffer-fluffs to chase instead of an ultimate truth to grasp. Warm and fuzzies didn’t pluck Grandpa from hell and place him in the arms of God in heaven. Fluffer-fluffs can’t do that. Only Christ can.
I found this on the pagan homeschoolers site: “What I hate about Christians is that they think they’re right and that everyone else is wrong. They can’t accept that we can all be right.”
Well said, Random Pagan; that’s exactly true. If I believe Scripture, and I believe God when He says there is One God, that God is I AM, and I AM is the Only Way to heaven, how can I say that your beliefs and your truth are also right? I can’t! That would make me a very bad Christian indeed. If as a pagan you tell me that my beliefs are true and your beliefs are true, then you’ve just acknowledged that Christ and salvation exist but that you choose not to believe them. That’s like acknowledging the Grand Canyon exists for me, but choosing not to believe it exists in your life, and expecting to be able to drive right over it without plunging to your doom. A good pagan should believe that Christians are wrong, not that we are all right, and that would make you just as hateful as those blasted Christians.
There is ultimate truth. Black is black. White is white. Sin is sin. Christ is the Way.
What does this have to do with Grandpa? He trusted that Truth. He closed his eyes in this world only to be born into the next. When we covered Grandpa with the dirt he worked his whole life, the dirt he taught us to love, that was not the end. That was only the beginning.
What does that have to do with me? The man I loved first and longest is there in heaven where time doesn’t exist as we know it, and I will see him again…him, my godparents, my father-in-law, and most especially Jesus.
When I cry in the middle of the night and shed tears in the shower, it’s because this world hurts. It’s not because I’m hopeless–let me rephrase that. It’s not because I’m without hope. In fact, there is joy mixed with my tears–joy for Grandpa, joy for our future, and yes, joy for the memories and love. There’s not a single fluffer-fluff. You can’t cling to fluffy feel-goods–they’re elusive. Christ is real.
I miss you Grandpa. And it hurts. It hurts a lot, Grandpa.
I will see you again.