It’s been a good couple of days following a rough couple of weeks. Remember, as a child when that one older boy would give the merry-go-round his strongest running push? You would hang on for dear life as the centrifugal force would try to rip your little hands from the bars and you couldn’t wait to get off.
Grief is a merry-go-round.
Sometimes I get to exit the ride for a day or two, but my stomach still churns from the after-effect.
Nathan and I have been attending a grief support group called Grief Share the past two weeks and it’s been a comfort. The first night we went to group we introduced ourselves and all shared who we have lost. After this they turned on the video.
And there he was, my Grandfather, sitting in his living room. The living room I got married in, the living room of my every Christmas Eve and family memories. And he was there, talking without Alzheimer’s, his memory fully intact, looking into my eyes and telling me to embrace the grief and allow it to show, for by this I am demonstrating the depth of the love I have for the one I lost.
I wasn’t expecting him that night. Hot tears sprang to my eyes and rolled down my cheek in the dark room. Nathan searched for my eyes from across the room and shook his head in amazement. I had forgotten; years ago my grandfather was a contributor to the Grief Share ministry. He lost his eldest daughter, my Aunt Suzie, when I was a senior in high school and subsequently wrote a book called ‘Confessions of a Grieving Christian’. His personal walk through grief moved him to be a part of this project, and here I was, years down the road benefiting from it.
By the time Phoebe was diagnosed my grandfather was declining rapidly from Alzheimer’s. Sometimes he would recognize me, other times not. He loved my children and held them on his lap and teased them without fully realizing they were his great grandchildren. The last time he saw Phoebe in the hospital, she was septic and intubated and I could tell he felt uncomfortable and like he was intruding on a private situation. He didn’t realize that it was his great granddaughter in that bed.
Always the encourager, and one to share wisdom and direction; I know my grandfather would have had something to say to me that would give me hope in the midst of my journey had he not lost his memory. This was a familiar journey for him and he would have imparted strength, empathy, compassion and love.
That night, in the grief group in darkened room he was doing just that.
He was speaking into the future without ever realizing that I would need those words so desperately. I’m thankful for his obedience to do what I know what painful for him.
He passed away last year shortly after Thanksgiving, and one of the thoughts that comforts me daily, is knowing that my Phoebe is with my Grandy. I know what it is to be loved by him, and I know what it is to be loved by her. It’s hard for me to imagine two people more loving than these, so I can’t begin to fathom the love they are sharing with each other now. It makes me smile.
There are more sweet moments with God’s fingerprints all over them that I want to share, and will when I get a chance. I am finding Him faithful and steady even when I am not. It is often hard to hear His voice over the raging storm that is grief, but I keep my ears open.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”