On Life and Loss

I’ve thought about writing this post for a while, but every time I try it feels like the words get stuck in my head and never quite make it to the page.  I want to write it all down though because writing has always been a release for me, whether or not anyone ever reads the words I put out there.  I’ve always found I can articulate myself best when I write down my thoughts instead of just speaking.

Every month milestone that Charlotte hits is a big deal for me.  She’s growing up faster than I imagined and I love seeing her monthly progress, but with that progress is a deep sadness that never goes away.  Most of you know that my grandpa passed away 13 days before my daughter was born.  He suffered a heart attack on February 5 and he never recovered, and he died on Valentines Day.  I don’t think there are words that can adequately express how difficult that time was for me and my family.  We were in the final weeks of my pregnancy, the first grandchild for my parents, the first great grandchild for my grandparents.  How luck was I to welcome my baby into a world where all four of my grandparents were here to see it?  The week before I found out I was pregnant, I told my mom how when I had a baby I wanted a photo in the hospital of me holding the baby with all four of them surrounding me.  Once February arrived I was sure I would get that photo.  I can see it in my head.  I can picture the picture that never was.  It haunts me every day.

Every month Charlotte does something new.  She smiles, she laughs, she grabs her toes and tries to roll her chubby body over without much success so far.  She does all of these things and my grandpa never sees it.  There are days when I look at her and think to myself, how is it fair that my grandpa never met you?  I try not to be angry with God, but some days I feel like the only way I was ever going to get blessed with my beautiful baby girl is if he took something away from me.  I know that sounds terrible, but I have to be honest.  The phrase death is a part of life never meant anything to me until all of this happened.  If I’m really honest, when my mom called me to tell me that my grandpa was in the hospital, deep down I knew he was never coming home.  He had health problems for so many years, and he had recovered so many times and we were blessed beyond words to have him with us for as long as we did.  My grandpa was 82 years old, so it wasn’t like he was a young, spring chicken, but what a cruel twist of fate.  To this day I feel like it is the most unfair thing I have ever had to experience, and I think it’s bullshit.

Grief is a strange thing.  I think about my grandpa every single day, that’s a given.  Some days I think about him and don’t shed a single tear, I just am reminded of him and I smile and I move on with my day.  Some days, and for some reason this is usually when I am driving, the grief hits me in the chest like a sledge hammer.  I think of those final days in the hospital where I sat there with my swollen body, my baby’s little body moving around inside of me, and the life leaving his.  I look at his watch on my wrist and I think to myself, why couldn’t we get another week?  Another month?  Why did this have to happen at all?  Why couldn’t science have a break through where people could take a pill and live forever?

I truly believe that my grandpa is Charlotte’s special angel.  While I was in the hospital visiting him I was having regular contractions.  The early signs of labor began when my mucus plug decided to pop out, and I was petrified I would be having the baby while he was in the hospital.  When it became clear that he was not going to make it, I was petrified I would have the baby and miss his funeral.  When he died, all of my contractions stopped.  The signs of labor went away entirely, and I think that’s because the second my grandpa entered Heaven he decided he was going to spend some time with Charlotte and I think they had the best time ever.  I had 27 years with him and there isn’t a single memory I look back on where we did not have the best time.  He would have moved Heaven and Earth for me if I asked him to, and I know he would have treated Charlie girl the same way.

Whenever I am having a particularly bad day, I just think of how I imagine him to be now.  Young, healthy, handsome, having the time of his life.  I believe he is with me and my family every single day.  He sees us laugh, he sees us cry, he knows how much we love him and miss him.  But I think he is happy and at peace.  I see him in my daughter’s eyes and hear him in my daughter’s laugh.  If death is a part of life, he is a part of her.  He is my first great loss and she is my first great miracle.

I miss you grandpa.  Every day.

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