Thursday, February 9, 2012

Loss of life

I was 6. My first experience in loss of life. My mom was pregnant with baby "b" and I was excited. Then I remember my parents sadness coming over our home.
One day my Gamma came over to watch me and my brother and sister while my parents went out. They came home and baby brian was gone. The grief overtook my mom. My dad was so sad as well.

I was 10. My Papa Howard had been in and out of the hospital, a few times if I remember right. We went over to see him and he looked different. Tired.
One night after struggling through my math homework with dad, he shared with me that Papa Howard had died that day. It was the first time I remember seeing my dad cry.
I hugged him tight and insisted on going to the viewing, although my parents didn't think I was old enough to go. I loved my Papa Howard.
At the viewing I didn't end up going into the viewing room after my dad told me to remember him in my memories.
At the funeral I remember being very upset that my 6 year old sister fell asleep. How could she be so insensitive? but she didn't know.

In high school one of my best friend's father passed away. My friends and I sang at his memorial service. I felt so sad for my friend and couldn't imagine what it must feel like to lose a parent.
During those 4 years many high school classmates would lose a parent.

I am now in my 29th year of life. My Gampy passed away a few weeks before Christmas. He had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for many, many years. His health had declined significantly and he required full-time care. We had a chance to say our good-byes and had prepared for his death.
He had accepted Jesus into his heart and I felt peace at last when he passed. He no longer had to struggle against an unwilling body and confused mind here on earth.
He is free and has clarity with Jesus.
My Papa Robbins passed away this morning. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in January 2011 and was given 2 months to live. My husband and I moved away that month. We said our good-byes to him at his home before we moved.
In June we visited for our baby shower and saw him once again. Said our good-byes.
In November I took my newborn daughter to visit him. He met his first and only great-grandchild and was teary-eyed holding her.
At Christmas we saw him and he held her once more. His speech was filled with stutters and it was difficult for him to walk. This time, he said his good-byes. He stuttered to find the words to say that he loved me. that he would miss me.
This last week I spoke with him a few times on the phone. We caught up on life between stutters with a few sentences. said we loved one another. said our final good-byes.
and now he is gone.

Loss of life comes with a flood of memories. In the quiet stillness, if you allow them, they will come.
Memories of Big Red gum which I never really liked but still he offered it freely. along with a quarter.
memories of him popping out his dentures and trying to put them in our mouths as we ran away squealing.
easter egg hunts in the backyard.
memories of walking with him to McDonald's and his patience as I sought to discover what made the hands of the giant moon-head move to play the piano.
thankful for his gracious acceptance of my husband into the family when so many others were skeptical.
and some negative....some hurts...
the rejection.
the abuse.
the disapproval.
the manipulation.
the guilt.

how do you cope with the loss of life in a flood of memories?
some would say to hold on to the positive memories and let the rest fall away. but then you have eliminated reality.

thank you for the cross Lord. thank you for your grace that covers all sin and hurt and shame. thank you for being a God of restoration and healing. thank you for being a God of comfort, who wipes away tears.