Just after Christmas, I went home to visit my family with my kids. Toby had to stay for a little bit but then flew up to meet us and stay for the rest of our trip. Last year was difficult, man. Like, everything was hard, and hurt, and raw, and bleeding, and I felt so apathetic at times. It's been almost a year since we lost my Papa (my grandfather). He raised me right along side my Momma and my Nanny (my grandmother). I think I spent equal amounts of time with all three of them. Growing up, we lived next door to my grandparents the majority of the time. Papa was a quiet man, gentle. Children and animals both loved him, they were drawn to him. He was a soothing soul, a God fearing one, too. He made us coke floats before bed (my brother and me). He let us have ice cream on all the other nights. That's just something small, that at first read, seems insignificant. But it's actually those small, little memories that make such an impact. And thank the Lord, I have so many.
My heart has hurt so much since his death. I know for certain he is in heaven walking upright on healed feet. I know he's riding the most bad ass lawnmower ever and mowing the greenest, most lush grass we can only dream of. I know he's daily rejoicing with his Savior. I do know it. But even in that knowing, even though I have not felt angry that he had to leave his earth-side home, even in believing the Lord did right because, hello it's God, and He wanted His blessed son home. Even with all that, there is certainly still hurt. We all still hurt. So. Much. I have been very spoiled or lucky or blessed - call it what you will - but I had never lost anyone close to me, until Papa had to go. And I had my preconceptions about what loss is like when it's someone you really really REALLY love. Those are all out the window. I loved him something fierce, and I know that feeling was mutual. I miss him and his gentle presence. My heart has grieved this whole year. It comes in waves, this grief. There is no timeline to feel healed. Maybe you never do, I don't know for sure. I just know, I have a sore heart from losing him last year. Grief is hard. And by golly, just know, there is no timeline to feel better.
And I tear up as I even write these things. But when I was home, something shifted. A healing washed over me like the morning dew. It was fresh and crisp and beautiful and it glimmered. Every morning, I got up and walked over to Nanny's house to have coffee with her. A few days I had to drink it quick and run, but I didn't miss a morning with her. There was something so sweet about being in their home and just listening to her chat about him. We cried, we laughed, we hugged, we talked and talked. But just sitting there, sometimes in his chair, letting my grandma talk about my grandpa and soaking in every. single. word. was so soothing. I wanted to hear about everything. I made sure to ask how they met once more, letting all the details come to life in my mind. She even apologized for talking about him "too much", but I said, NO! Do not apologize! Keep talking! I think perhaps, she needed to talk about him, too. Her faithful, sweet, loving husband whom I know she misses more than words can even describe.
It was so good for my soul, these morning chats. My heart will always long for him and the way he always smelled just after a shower every night and those pearls snap shirts and his love of after dinner sweets. He always had Little Debbies. But my heart is a little more put back together today. I can cry but still feel like I reached a place of healing. That is such a beautiful place. The hurt and healing all wrapped up together. God is so gracious to allow us people to love so fiercely. He is so gracious to walk with us and carry us through hurt and heartache. He is gracious to grant us healing.
"He heals the broken hearted and bandages their wounds." -Psalm 147:3
Sometimes, grief gets brought back to the surface only to be healed a little more. Sometimes, healing comes from where we least expect and when we least expect it. When it comes, embrace it, welcome it, encourage your heart to cry and sing all at once.