1.07.2011

there is a season...

My Grandpa passed away on Thursday. It wasn't sudden, but even when you're expecting death, it still feels sudden. Its so final and complete, that when it happens {even after some anticipation of it coming} it grabs you in a way you didn't expect it to.
This is the first death in our family that Ethan has been aware of. It actually surprised me how much it hit him. He's been asking me quite a bit about death, since he found out "Great Pop" was very sick.

"So, if he dies, we will never see him here again? Even during a holiday like Christmas?" 
"Is he afraid to die?" 
"will he go to Heaven?"
"Do you think he's glad he lived to be so old, or do you think he wishes he could live longer?" 
"will it hurt him when he dies?" 
"Will I forget him as I get older?" 
Great Grandpa meets his new Great Grandson, Ethan 

When I told him Great Pop had passed, he just stared at me. I could tell his mind was trying to wrap itself around that idea. The strange idea of death. 
All he said was "I'm sorry Mommy" ... and then he began to cry. 

I've never seen Ethan cry over a non-selfish thing. I know that sounds rude and I don't mean it to be, but he's 5 1/2, so I think its normal. He typically cries when he gets hurt, or when he doesn't get his way about something or gets in trouble. He reached out and hugged me and simply said "I don't think I was actually ready for him to die." And I told him its always the way you feel. You're never actually ready. Even when you think you are. 

We woke up today, to weather that feels very fitting. Its bleak, drizzly, foggy even. We've done some school, played a couple games, did some light house cleaning and now we're watching Beauty and the Beast. Kara is napping, Jason is at work... life goes on
Another strange part of death is that life goes on. Even when you think for just 24 hours it should stop. It doesn't. Rachel says that if she thinks about Great Pop dying, it makes her very sad, so she announced "I'm just not thinking about it!" and has, in her own 4 1/2 year old way, moved on :) 

I've been taking advantage of this life lesson to teach the kids a lot about redeeming the time. Great Pop was 'old', but we aren't all guaranteed 80+ years of life. We're not all guaranteed a lot of time on our death bed. Sometimes it comes fast and swift and completely unexpected. And so we need to be ready. Sure that we're living our lives to the glory of God - not for the pleasures of self. 
This idea is hitting home with Ethan. Today he was rude to Rachel; completely disregarded her feelings, ruined a craft she was working on and then made fun of her when she cried about it. We dealt with that and then after he apologized, he said to me "If I died after doing that to Rachel, I would wish I hadn't done that. I would wish I made good choices and not been so rude." So we discussed a bit of what that type of living looks like and what our motivation ought to be. 

I will miss my Grandpa. We didn't see him too often, but when we saw him, we had a nice time. Ethan loved all of the hobbies Great Pop was into. He loved the airplane models, the pictures of different airplanes he worked on, the drum set :) and the neat things Great Pop ordered in the mail. Every time we discuss going to California to visit family & friends, Ethan always reminds us "and we'll visit Great Pop too!" The last time I spent time with him, was during our visit in June. I had lunch with him. While we were talking about Washington and our life up here, how the kids are doing, how Jason likes his job, etc... he starred at me and then said "You're Jane's daughter Stef, right?" I smiled and said yes, understanding he had to really focus on my face to make out the details, to actually piece together who I was. Then he said "I don't think I've been a very good Grampa to you kids. I wasn't very involved in your lives." I told him that I thought he did just fine. That we only know Grandparents by the ones we have - we don't know any different. I told him I was sad when he and his wife moved so far away from us, but that I was glad he lived so close to my parents now. He continued to star at my face and then said "How old are you now?" 
"I just turned thirty in February." 
"Thirty? Wow. Sounds so young. Remember kiddo, you can never go back, only forward." 
Then, as if he completely forgot about what we were talking about, he said 
"did that guy ever bring me my soda?" 
Very much my Grandpa :) 

And even though I'm sure didn't think so, he will be missed. 

11 {comments}:

Melissa Joy said...

This was a loving, tender tribute.
Thanks for taking the time to share some of your grandpa with us.
(((hugs)))
And I am very sorry for your family's loss.

Erin said...

Beautiful memories & important lessons. Thanks for sharing your heart on this.
I am praying for you guys!

Nicola S. said...

Oh Stef, Thank you for pouring your heart out to all of us. I'll be praying for you all right now. Tears are pour out of my eyes and I'm so sorry for your loss. Even with years since I loss my last grandparent it brings all the emotions that sournd a death.
I'm so sorry and I pray that our God and Father comforts you with only His love and comfort. Love to you.

Jessica said...

Stef, again I'm so sorry that he finally passed. We've been grieving death over here as well so your post hits a very tender heart right now.

But that's so amazing that you've gotten the opportunity to already turn it into a teaching moment with Ethan. I'm sure he'll always remember this!

Krista said...

I'm sorry for your whole family's loss. Ethan's response brought me to tears...

Charlotte said...

Very precious post, Stef. And such a great reminder that we never know when God will take us home. We are keeping your family in prayer during this time.

Gina said...

What a great post, and wonderful lessons you've been able to take and share with your family. You're right--we're never fully ready for a death, no matter what the preparation. My condolences to you & your family. May you feel an extra measure of peace during this transition.

Stef said...

thanks ladies. You're all full of blessing and encouragement!

Gina said...

What a great post, and wonderful lessons you've been able to take and share with your family. You're right--we're never fully ready for a death, no matter what the preparation. My condolences to you & your family. May you feel an extra measure of peace during this transition.

Nicola S. said...

Oh Stef, Thank you for pouring your heart out to all of us. I'll be praying for you all right now. Tears are pour out of my eyes and I'm so sorry for your loss. Even with years since I loss my last grandparent it brings all the emotions that sournd a death.
I'm so sorry and I pray that our God and Father comforts you with only His love and comfort. Love to you.

Melissa Joy said...

This was a loving, tender tribute.
Thanks for taking the time to share some of your grandpa with us.
(((hugs)))
And I am very sorry for your family's loss.

 

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