Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A not so happy anniversary

My cousin, Grace, wrote this, and I could not have said it any better -

"The night of January 4th, 2010, I found myself in a situation I had previously believed to be impossible. I sat in a hospital room with my grandmother, my father, aunts, uncles, my husband, sister Carli, and cousin Katey. We all sat silent, knowing that we would never see his smile or hear his loving words ever again. The pain was slow to set in for me, I truly never believed this moment would ever come. He had always been immortal to me. I thought that someday my children would sit in his lap and hear his stories and feel his love just like I had. I watched my grandma hold his hand and smile at the memories they shared. She kissed his forehead. She tucked in the covers to make sure he was warm. She comforted us and asked for none in return. He fought for every breath. After what seemed like an eternity of watching him hurt, she kissed his hand and asked the nurse how long he had to be like that. Within moments they turned off the oxygen and silenced the monitors. His breathing slowed and then stopped. The nurse held his other hand waiting for his heart to stop. And it did. My heart ached, for the first time I experienced the pain of loss. I was unaware that I was capable of feeling that kind of pain. I held his hand and kissed his cheek and said goodbye to his mortal shell. I thought I was saying goodbye to my grandpa, but I looked around at my family and saw bits of him in them. I realized that his body no longer walked the earth, but he still lives.

This year has flown by. Some days I find myself thinking that it passed quickly so we had less time to dwell on the void left by his absence. Not a day goes by that I don't find myself thinking about him. He lived his life to the fullest, teaching me to do the same. There isn't a single aspect of my being that isn't in one way or another shaped by him. At times I find myself wondering if it is normal to feel the pain and mourn his loss for such a long time. When I am down and feeling sadness for his loss, I need to smile and remember the twenty-one, quality years that I spent in his presence. He would want us to remember the good times and the love that was shared and continue that. His life was monumental, he had such a great impact on family, friends, and his community. Sometimes I feel as though when he left this earth that the world got just a little darker. I then remember that even though he is no longer here, his legacy and everything he stood for lives in the hearts and minds of so many. I miss him so much, but I understand why he had to go. If he had continued to stay on this earth in his condition, he would not have been enjoying life and that was against everything he believed in. So grandpa, thanks for the memories and lessons you taught me. I will take the example you set and live by it. I will cherish every day, spend as much time as possible with the ones I love, stand up for what I believe in, and hopefully someday people will look at my life and see that I tried to continue your legacy."

Thank you, Grace, for reminding us all that a little piece of my grandpa still lives in our family. His legacy is one I will always cherish. From him, I learned "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. - Abraham Lincoln"

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