I have a big decision to make about graduate school. Whatever I decide, will directly effect the next five years of our lives and indirectly affect the rest. So many times, I have waffled between my two choices and prayed for clarity. I wish Grandaddy were here. He would listen without judgment, ponder my questions, reflect on the many circumstances, and deliver honest, thoughtful, loving advice. Grandaddy would know what to do. How much it hurts to lose someone you trust completely and who loves you completely – not because you did anything spectacular to deserve that love but because you were his – a definite part of his earthly orbit.
Sometimes, I don’t believe that he’s really left us. So far away from home, I can close my eyes and imagine him still firmly planted in his rocking chair at Athlone, hear his gentle voice in my mind. I am removed from the daily reflections of his life and of his death. Other times, the realization comes in the softest of reminders – the first hint of spring, a gentle rain, the fifth of each month passing, and a surprise hearing of “In the Garden.” These soft reminders, they come as searing, hot scars on my heart, within my soul. They break open the safety of my imagination and there it is: what a lonely life it is to live without Grandaddy. My tears spring forth, then, the pain and the freshness of grief outflowing so that I am back in Virginia for those last weeks, the end of his life seeming like yesterday, this morning, a minute, a second past.
With my family, who shared those moments with me, held his hands with me, I feel an inexplicable closeness. But, I cannot help but feel the overwhelming nature of our loss without him. In an uncontrollable world, he served as our island; our security. To go on, we have no choice. But, oh, what a difference he made and how different this new forage into the future is without him. Grandaddy made sense out of the senseless: I wish I could talk to him, I wish he could answer my questions, I wish he were here.
The day Grandaddy died, the air was filled with spring promises. The weather had been bitterly cold, even for February, but that day bloomed forth through our sorrow, whispering of daffodils and Grandaddy’s garden. I remember walking with Aunt Pam across the yard, over the fields, looking towards the surrounding mountains, and feeling this comforting, gentle breeze brush our hair, our cheeks, our hands while the sun kissed us from above. The weather was a surprise to us that day; we bathed in the warmth as we tried to comprehend how the unthinkable had finally happened during the early morning hours. Somehow, I think it was Grandaddy’s spirit finally free from the suffering of his body, in the wind, the sun, the green grass, doing his best to comfort us and confirm that even though “weeping does cometh in the night, that joy cometh in the morning.”