Jeff Romig’s post about Rent is one of my favorites. I love the songs, especially Seasons of Love. The song begins by asking how you measure a year. When you are talking about loss, I think during the first year it is measured in firsts. The first birthday without _____. The first holiday without _______. Today I am relieved that the year of firsts without my grandfather ends.
A year ago I was in San Antonio writing this blogs 100th post while I sat with Grandad and my family in hospice as he died. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, and specifically our last week together. Saying goodbye to someone you love that much isn’t an opportunity that everyone is afforded. Getting to say goodbye is a gift, but watching someone die is hard. It is painful.
For much of the last year the vision of watching him die has clouded the memories of him living. But the thing is – living is just what brings the good memories back. Sometimes it’s as simple as baking the apple pie that was his favorite. Other times it is planning a trip and thinking about how much he enjoyed travel and would have wanted to know all of the details.
That is when I can begin thinking about the hilarious times. When I was in first grade he helped me write a song about the boy I had a crush on and convinced me to sing it to him at lunch using my banana as a microphone. Calhoun Smith, I am sorry for embarrassing you that day, but the situation was out of my control… Grandad, had told me I needed to do this. These memories bring me joy.
Even the joyful memories lead to tears. Going through this year of firsts has led to a range of emotions, but I can say that the only one I haven’t felt is anger. It is hard to be angry that he had 88 full years. That he got to watch his grandchildren grow up. That he got to dance with me at my wedding.
More than anything it is just that I miss him. Everyone who loved my Grandad now has some of his things that were special to them. On occasion I sleep in some of his old t-shirts. There was one that I held off wearing so I didn’t have to wash it because it still smelled like him. This Christmas my cousins and I received memory bears that were hand-made from some of his old plaid shirts by volunteers at Vistas. (Yes, I’m 31 and have a teddy bear. Actually,confession – I have two.)
As Seasons of Love continues it goes from asking how you measure a year to how you measure a life. They talk about the measure being sunsets, cups of coffee, but ultimately – love. If that is the measure, then there is no end to measure of Grandad’s life because it was overflowing with love. And because of him mine overflows still. Love you, Grandad.