It has been almost a month since my grandfather died. Long past the the initial shock, and the trip “home” to Ohio for the funeral, the tears have continued to come, usually at unexpected times. Most recently it was over selecting a bunch of asparagus at the grocery. Standing there in the produce section I was transported to a day last spring when my children picked asparagus alongside my grandfather at his home.
As I stood there in front of the vegetables with tears falling down my face, once again I tried to process why I’m having such a hard time “moving on” after his passing.
Hours later, still mulling over my emotions, I suddenly had an “ah-ha moment.”
There are so many things about him that I will miss. Grandpa quietly lived out his love. His greatest expression of that love to any of us was not in the stuff he bought us, but the time that he lavished upon us. There was nothing too important that stopped him from taking time to be with us, whether it was fishing in the pond, telling stories of days gone by, imparting his infinite wisdom of nature, or quietly taking walks around the farm hand in hand.
And yet there was something a bit more, something almost at a primal level. Both my dad and his mother passed away nearly seven years ago. Because of that, Grandpa was my last link to my paternal side of the family. There had been so many questions about his childhood that I never thought to ask my dad, so many stories that I would have loved to have known. And now the only one left who could have shared much of those with me was gone. Though I know my aunts still love me the same today that they did a month ago, I feel like a leaf blown off the family tree in a big gust of wind.
As I allowed myself to grieve over understanding that loss, my thoughts drifted back to my children. Suddenly all the stuff I have read about loss became less “book smarts” and changed into something real and personal. While what I feel and what they may one day feel is different, it is in many ways the same. I am grieving for my loss of family history, something that I enjoyed for 38 years. I now understand with my heart ~ not just my head ~ how they may grieve for the loss of their family history, even if they never knew it to begin with. Maybe even more so because they don’t know really where they came from. Knowing now the sense of loss I feel at the connection to my roots being broken, I feel like I have a glimpse into the sense of being un-rooted that they may experience in the coming years.
While in my heart of hearts I do believe that God’s redemption from loss will carry them through, I am prepared for some difficult days ahead. And while the pain of losing someone I love still hurts, I am grateful to have this shared experience to understand just a little more where they may one day be coming from.