Monday, March 11, 2013

Saying Goodbye

I've been working on this post for a few days... unable to truly finish, likely because I'm still grieving.  As hard as it is to type with tears in my eyes, I don't want to avoid this post just because its hard.  So it may have a bit of rambling and not say all that's on my heart, but is says a portion...

My grandfather passed away last week and we'll be travelling to attend his going home service soon.  This is the first person my son has known well that has passed away so it has generated lots of discussion.  "Great Grandpa with the Cowboy Hat" has always had a special place in son's heart (and mine) which has made all the conversations about death and heaven that much more difficult.

Because my son seems to be someone that needs to ponder ideas before he comes up with questions, I have gently brought up the topic a few times.  We talked a bit about what it means to die.  We talked about that it was ok to be sad, that Mommy and Daddy feel sad, and that he might see other adults cry or act sad as Great Grandpa will be missed.  We talked about heaven and how wonderful the Bible describes it.  Since he knew Great Grandpa had been sick, we talked about the fact that all the pain and sickness would be gone, that Great Grandpa would be able to walk without his cane, even run (which my son thought was pretty amazing).

I know he doesn't understand a lot of it but we'll tackle things as they come up, and maybe as time passes it will be easier for me to talk about it, without tears flowing.  Today we were looking at pictures (including the one below) and he asked "so.... I can't play checkers on the ipad with Great Grandpa until I get to heaven, right?  Since its Grandma's ipad would we have to wait for her to get there too?" 

I feel so blessed to have so many wonderful memories of my grandpa (and my grandma who passed away several years before our son was born).  Because they lived nearby while I was growing up, they are in so many of my childhood memories.  I'm certain their stories, their lives and their love impacted me in more ways than I know.  Their legacy of marriage (57 years) as partners and life-long friends and the high value they placed on education impacted so much of our extended family story. 

I've tried to take time to share stories of them with my son... our stories (and traditions) are an important part of passing on family legacies.  He thought the road trips with my Grandpa and Grandma to visit my cousins sounded like great fun, was amazed that I rode on a sled pulled by a big tractor as a kid, and loved the stories of Great Grandpa playing softball with us.  He thought Great Grandpa's tractor rides would've been exciting and was amazed that he made even more popcorn than Dad does, especially for road trips :)

Saying goodbye is always hard for me, but because of the promise of eternal life through Christ I know this goodbye is just a temporary one.  So I will do my best to celebrate his life, treasure the memories, and rejoice in the fact that he is whole and healthy again in heaven, with his Creator, and reunited with my grandma, his best friend.

**Reading "What is Heaven Like?" by Beverly Lewis really helped with our discussions about heaven.  I found this book through great post by Jenae at about children's books that cover the topics of death, loss and grief.   

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