I still remember when we moved out of the home I grew up in. I was so distraught. My parents were separating, my brothers were growing up and beginning their lives as adults, and my one place in the world was being taken away. I felt like no one seemed to get it that this home meant something to me and that it was the only unchanging thing in my life. My mom couldn't afford the mortgage on a single income, so I know she had her reasons. It didn't change the fact that the home I grew to love and be comforted by was no longer mine. To this day, 10 years later, my heart still aches for that old house and I can still tell you everything about the way it was.
Real death is something I've not been too familiar with until recently. Okay, don't be smart. I'm obviously still alive so I've never experienced death first hand. (I've got a lot of family that would make a joke out of that!) I just haven't had a lot of people that I have been close to die. There was my Granny Rice, who passed when I was about 7, and I remember being so sad at her funeral. A friend from elementary school that I hadn't been close to in a few years committed suicide and it is still surreal to me that she isn't here. My Grandpa Russ, my Mom's dad, passed away, and I regretted not knowing him any better than I did. It's always been something that's been sad and had it's effects on me, but it wasn't up close. I don't know how to explain it any other way than that.
My Pa Pa Larry passed away after a few years of being told he wasn't doing well. I, a 19 year old kid, was in denial that he wasn't in as good shape as he ever was. My Dad's family lived in Illinois and as I got older, my visits became fewer and fewer. I lost sight of the importance of keeping in touch with your grandparents and soaking up their wisdom. As my dad would warn me of my Pa's condition, I would just think to myself that he was still fishing and getting around really well. I was too selfish to pick up the phone and just see how he was doing, unlike when I was a kid. I just didn't want to think that my grandparents could ever die. When he did die, I was filled with so much guilt and regret. I had wished that I had spoken to him about his faith in God and shared with him what The Lord had done for me. I wished I could tell him that although he was not my biological grandpa (my grandma married him when my dad was about 9 years old), he was the only grandpa I ever really knew. He was such a huge part of my childhood. Every Spring, my heart hurts because I want to be a little kid spending my spring breaks riding around in his truck (going to only The Lord knows where) and the smell of his chewing tobacco. Visits to grandma's, while they are precious, aren't the same without Pa Pa and I miss him.
This past week I lost someone else who was very special to me and I'm really struggling. I was close to Uncle Larry in a different way, as he lived in Texas for a great part of my childhood. When I was really little, I have a vague memory of him storming out of my Nanny's house to his white truck. Oh and I cannot forget when I thought he was very loud when he visited (I was four; this was when Uncle Jimmy passed away) and I was glad when he left. I was very shy and I didn't like unfamiliar people, so I often hid from him when he came around. However, it seemed we both really enjoyed the internet and email, so when I began to want to pester all of my family members who used the internet at around 9 or 10 years old, he was the one who didn't mind talking. (Don't get me wrong, a lot of my aunts and uncles wrote me and whatnot. But if you knew Larry, you knew he could talk to anyone about anything.) He had no problem writing me back every single day. Oh how I wish I would have saved those conversations! I was just a little kid then, so I know he got the real deal from me. I know I shared my love for Michael Jackson and my desire to grow up to be a famous singer. He never talked to me like I was weird for that. Okay, he did tell me that I should never ever ever write a song with rapping in it. (I wanted his feedback and in true Larry style, he gave it.) He was never above talking to a weird little kid like me, because, well, he was weird too, I guess. When my parents were having issues, I remember writing long emails full of feelings with apologies for writing such a long note. I remember his response was, "you can talk to me any time." Different times throughout high school I would call him and let him know what was going on in my life, only to be very scolded for what I was getting into. He wanted the best for me and I remember it hurt to know I disappointed him. He and his family moved back to Indiana right around the time I left for college and I remember being so excited because that meant I'd get to see him and catch up. We had plans to someday, but it just never happened. Life happened and it just never came together. He passed away this past Monday and my heart has been broken ever since. I've been sad, angry, confused and everything else since then because it's just a shock. I guess I'm still trying to process it. I didn't see him in person very often like maybe some of his other family and friends, but I was happy to know he was out there somewhere doing okay. I was happy knowing that surely I'd get the chance for him to meet my husband (and be very entertained by that conversation; both of those fellas could talk your ear off) and for him to see the kind of woman I had grown up to be. And he's not; he won't. I'm not used to this feeling and on top of that, I hate saying good bye.
I don't know how I would do this without the grace of God. Losing someone or something you love is hard enough, but thankfully I have Him to carry me when I don't feel like walking anymore. When I was a child, I was not saved and did not have the peace of God that passes all understanding. The world was so bleak then and even a small loss like losing a silly boyfriend was the end of the world. I now have hope that one day on the other side of eternity I will no longer feel this kind of sadness or sorrow. I will no longer feel like I have to hold onto the people and things I love out of fear of change. I will be reunited with the ones I love and better yet, I will be in the presence of my perfect Savior forever.
I just keep holding onto that in the midst of this ever changing life.