i’ve been trying to sort my out-of-sorts thoughts for a while. my grandfather passed last thursday, ironically, on the day that hurricane maria hit the dominican republic and i was snuggled against a knotted blanket. i remember thinking, ‘a literal hurricane and an emotional hurricane’ all at once. the incessant, howling winds the perfect cacophony of grief.
i booked a flight home and frantically planned two weeks of lessons and tried to do all the things to forget the one thing that i could not face an ocean away from my family and all that is familiar. there’s a silence that settles after someone you love passes onto their next life. into their eternal home. it’s a settling, a stillness, a deep sigh-you have been worrying and fretting for this very moment, especially if they had been sick, in the hospital, preparing for stillness. and finally, it comes. death and all its questions.
i stepped foot in charlotte, and my heart wanted to fly out of my chest, it felt so good to see my people, breathe their same air, speak their same language. family. my beautiful, loud, affectionate family that has been grieving and learning about loss without me. there’s such unity in loss. there is an abundance of food, laughter, storytelling. bringing out boxes of old pictures and laughing at the “do you remember the time?” moments. there’s tears of joy and sorrow. forgiveness. healing. if it weren’t so morbid, i’d say that some of my favorite moments are after tragedy-if only because everyone is so happy to be alive. to hug one another. to hold your hand.
my grandfather was a remarkable man. words honestly don’t do him justice. he lived the gospel in a million humble ways. he was a constant fixture in my life, a privilege that i do not, did not, take for granted. he was witty and full of one-liners. he knew how to tell a good story, an art form we do not often appreciate. he was solid, dependable, and wonderful. a patriarch. a legend.
his passing was sad and shocking. but also joyful, because he is finally Home. he is Home. what a beautiful joy our salvation in Jesus Christ is, what a blessing it is to call him Father. if you don’t know Him, i urge you to try and get to know Him, even a little. even if you don’t like church or religion or religious people, just give getting to know Jesus a chance. once you do, you won’t want to turn back.
one beautiful graveside service, and onto the next memorial in Memphis. somewhere sandwiched in the middle i turn twenty-two and i never would have guessed i would be in my home for that birthday, but somehow here i am. another year of life, celebrating the eighty-four years of my grandfather’s life.
death, grief, loss. words i look up in the concordance of my Bible to see if i can make sense of the feelings i’m left to muddle through. i google “verses about death Bible.” i prepare my speech about the life of my grandfather. but the resounding refrain in my mind: this legacy. family, not money. relationships, not things. a knowledge of our Savior.
and so the cycle goes: life and death. but “we do not grieve as those who have no hope” 1 These 4:13. what a joy it is to have loved such a wonderful man. what a beautiful life he has left, and what a legacy he has built.
hug your people close, live well, and laugh often. it’s a wonderful life.