At some point in each of our lives, we come to believe that the people we love are invincible. Our love for them becomes a shield that protects them from all harm, keeps them inside a bubble where the world cannot get to them. In our hearts and minds, we make our loved ones immortal.
As silly as that may sound, it is very true. Think about someone you love very, very much. Think of how you can pick up the phone and call them just to hear their voice. Think of how easy it is to jump in your car, ride to their house and give them a hug or kiss. Think about how, no matter where your loved one is, just a few hours on a plane or two, will land you right in front of them. Think about movie nights, birthday parties, road trips, board games, cards, music and dancing together.
Now think of picking up the phone, calling and getting no answer because they aren’t there anymore. Think about getting in your car, riding to their house just for them to not open the door for you. Think about getting on that plane, landing there and finding that they won’t be standing before you. Think about all of those movie nights, birthdays, road trips, games, fun and happiness slipping from reality to a mere memory. Do you feel that? That hole, right there in the middle of your chest…the breath that escaped your body at the thought of a change so profound it alters the position of your world, causing it to tilt a little to the left at all times.
That is the feeling of loss.
On June 1, 2016, death came in and took my grandfather away forever. It was to be expected if I am honest because he was so sick for so long. This time alone, he had been in the hospital for almost a month. It was heartbreaking to see him go through such a tough time. He slowly became unfamiliar to me as he lay in the hospital bed deteriorating. But somehow, he maintained his “Pop-ness” that will forever belong only to him. I remember 2 days before he passed, he hadn’t opened his eyes the whole time me and my sister were there. My sister dropped something, making a loud bang. He woke up (as if he were taking a nap on the sofa at home) with a slight smirk on his face, lifting his arm, shaking his fist in the air in the way that he always did when he joked about giving us a beating. We laughed and I felt okay for a moment, because I knew I would never be able to forget the man he was.
My grandfather was an amazing man. Whenever I needed something, he would help. Even when he started getting sick a few years ago, he would still walk outside with me to take a look under the hood of my car when we both knew it was too much for him. As a kid, I always remember him telling me and my sister he “had something for us” just to come downstairs with his fist balled tightly around a few dollars for us to “treat ourselves”. 🙂 I had nothing but love and respect for him. He was a phenomenal man.
One thing I remember most is his love for music. We always knew he was having a good day when we could hear his records playing before we even walked through the door. His records sat in a milk crate beside the TV stand where his “vintage” record player was set up. He loved so many great artists! Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin: you name it, he had it. He would put a record on and dance from one end of the house to the other. A few times, he even grabbed my grandmother and spun her around. There was nothing like hearing him play his records. When Christmas came around, you couldn’t spend a day at our grandparent’s house without hearing Run Rudolph Run by Chuck Berry. When we were little, me and my sister used to dance on the landing while Pop danced across the living room floor. Those were some of my happiest moments with him.
Now, we can’t make any more memories. Now, I have to live with the ones I already had. Now, I have to try to understand God’s plan, understand that Pop wasn’t meant to be here forever. Now, I have to remember him instead of knowing him. It’s weird, and I still haven’t come to terms with it, but I know we will all be okay. Pop loved us so much. He took the greatest care of us while he was here, so I can only imagine how strong of a guardian angel he will be now.
I could go on and on about this amazing man, how much he meant to me and my family and how much he will be missed, but I would be typing until my fingers fell off. So for now, I’ll keep my ear tilted to the sky and listen for the sweet sound of Pop’s records. Because in Heaven, there is no more pain, only peace…and that alone is reason enough for him to put his records on…
Rest Sweetly Pop
April 9, 1938-June 1, 2016❤