If you know me or follow me on Facebook, you know that my grandpa was killed last week in a tragic car accident. I’ll admit that up until now, it’s been as if a giant bubble has surrounded my family, protecting us from accidents and disease. As a result, I haven’t had to deal with the kind of grief that comes from the sudden death of a loved one. My family has been working through grief for the past week and as we have, I’ve been struck by several thoughts on the grieving process:
- During extreme tragedy, time stands still. Most weeks seem to fly by, but last week, I believe I felt each second. I lost track of days, was unaware of day/night, and time blurred.
- Knowing that others are thinking of you and praying for you really does help. I’d always wondered if it mattered when I would tell those who’d lost loved ones that I was praying for them. Now I know that it does. A well-timed phone call, text, or email can lift the spirit.
- Flowers are comforting. When I walked into the viewing room for the first time on Friday night at the visitation, the first thing I saw was a spray of beautiful flowers from my co-workers. At that very difficult moment, those flowers brought me comfort.
- I can’t imagine going through something like we’ve gone through without having a strong faith in God.
- Sometimes, Taps being played is the saddest sound in the whole world–but seeing that flag folded and handed to my grandmother was a special moment.
I had the honor of speaking at Grandpa’s funeral. If you knew him, you know he was a great orator. I tried my best to do him proud. Here are a few points I made:
- This week, many people have tried to describe Grandpa, and it seems that the best description is he was one-of-a-kind. He was like Superman, Davy Crockett and the Dog Whisperer, all rolled into one. If I can find a man like Grandpa, I’ll marry him on the spot.
- As we’ve been together this week, we’ve all remarked that people who know us have heard us tell tales of him, even if they never met him. A man who hunted barefoot and played sports as well as any professional. My grandpa is a legend.
- For those of us blessed enough to be part of his family, he helped define us. I’ve spent my life being “Pudge Pearle’s Oldest Granddaughter”—and proud of it.
Through all of this, I have come to understand that grieving is a process. It is difficult to speak of him in past tense, and the sight of his empty recliner brings tears to my eyes every time I see it. But at the same time, I am so thankful for the time we had with him. Two days before his accident, I made the spur-of-the-moment decision to drive to Arkansas for the day. I stayed at my grandparents’ house until nearly 8 that night. Grandpa and I talked about the 5K race I’d just run, my upcoming book signing, and what was going on in my life. He was so proud. The hug, kiss, and “I love you” that we shared before I walked out the door is one I will never forget and I am so thankful for it.
And now I am struck by the thought that there are others in my life who I need to make sure know how I feel about them. Because you never know when a goodbye might be your last one. I resolve to make them count and hope you’ll do the same.
Please continue to pray for my family–we so appreciate it.