Watching my dad die of leukemia after only battling it 6 months, I learned about Faith. My dad NEVER faltered in his walk of faith, if "the Big Man Upstairs" was calling him home "he wasn't going to disagree". I learned from that experience to relinquish control, to stop acting like I knew what I was doing and to "let go and let God'. Being 8 month pregnant at the time, I found comfort in my dad's steadfast faith, his acceptance of his place in the universe and I was proud to be the daughter of a man that knew who he was, what he wanted and who made no excuses for either of those things. I was proud to have a son that I could also teach those life lessons to.
One year later I was with Hope. Sitting on her sofa, telling her that God's time isn't our time and trying to convince myself that dying at the age of 36, leaving 2 small children behind was not ours to question but what was to be. We didn't understand why 6 years of cancer battles was her lot in life but it was and from Hope I learned grace. I learned to try to be still and let others around me come to their own conclusions . I learned to try to stop rambling my opinions loudly to create noise in uncomfortable silence. I learned to sit in the silence and try to enjoy the "small things". Sitting by her bedside, watching each breath be a small victory, I vowed to never taking life for granted..... ever. I learned that life was about experiences, the good, the bad the ugly. That we are here on earth to experience them...hopefully we learn..... if not...and if we are lucky.....we get the chance at those life lessons again.
My grandfather's passing 5 months after Hope's and then my grandmother's 6 months after my grandfather's....by then...I was numb. My grandparents were in their 90's. They wanted to die. It was time, they were ready, they were waiting. I was lucky to have them for as long as I did and knew I had had plenty of time to prepare.
But this week I had to go help my mom with their house. The site of the details of their lives, still there untouched as if the items where just expecting them to return from a vacation, hit hard. I have been thinking....we have this ONE life, we get a set amount of days to do whatever we want to in those days. We love, we laugh, we move, we collect stuff. We think all kinds of things are really important when in hind sight they probably really aren't. What do I want to do with my ONE life and how to I want to spend all those days and minutes that string together to make that life. What will my legacy be?
This week my dear friend Jennifer is really struggling for her life as she at 38 years old battles melanoma. This week I saw an episode of Oprah and the commercial for the countdown of the last show....and wanted to watch it with Hope and re-live our trip to Chicago to see Skid Boot the dog instead of John Travolta ( I know I have such luck). This week Cooper put a picture of Pop Pop holding him just after he was born in his room next to the Woody Disney picture...then he added a framed picture he stole of "Grandpa" to add next to the others now proudly displayed on his dresser. And in all those moments...I cried. Maybe not at the exact moments, but I cried and now I feel like something in my universe shifted.
So I guess what I am saying is some moments in some days I am not ok. Or maybe I am....I am sure this is normal, I think this is healthy. I know that grief never leaves us and I know that grief pops up when you least expect it.
As I define my personal legacy, as I un-apologetically become the woman I was made to be, as I raise a boy to become a man at his full potential, along the way I will take the faith, the grace and the family legacy in my heart and hope that these days when I really wasn't ok..... I really was making great strides.
(PS- The pics are some cell phone snapshots from my grandparent's house)