Katy Lou is a sweet friend from college who is more like a sister than a friend. She and I rode the ride together…for better or worse…to Spain and back…experiencing things together that bind two people for life. Katy is steady and loyal and fantastically honest. She gets me and I get her. No explaining required. She is wife to one sweet Jacob and mama to Owen and Olivia. And a Dave Ramsey fan through and through. She is all about people living free of debt…spend ten minutes with her and you’ll believe me! She. Is. Real. And perfectly imperfect. And she just lost her Grandpa.
The following post is Katy’s response to that loss and it is one of the most beautiful expressions of grief I have ever read. I sat and cried with her as I read it because I felt a part of her grief through her words. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, this might be a comfort. If you’ve never lost a loved one, it might give a better glimpse at the pain. Help you feel it more with those who have. Here’s a little glimpse at the Katy that I will love for always…
I can see the things that need to be done: the pile of dirty dishes awaiting a soak in the dishwasher, the mountain of clean clothes growing so large its starting to intermingle with the dirty ones again and the bathroom…oh, the bathroom. But, doing them seems like too much right now. My mind is fuzzy, it aches…I ache. I am sad. The sting is fresh, the news still shocking- my grandpa has died.
He was 88 years old, so it seems ridiculous to say it was a shock. The shock is that my grandmother is still alive, that she has managed to outlive my healthy, vivacious grandfather. She has outlived her caretaker, her husband of 62 years who obviously meant it when he uttered the words, “in sickness and in health.” Our world has been jarred and now we have to figure out how to live in it and care for her without him.
We take comfort in the fact that his death was peaceful. There was no sickness or hospital bed or mental deterioration. There was a recliner, the morning paper and an empty coffee cup. Our only regret is my grandmother was unable to call for help, so she sat with him all day. A stroke has limited the dexterity of her fingers and her mind stays slightly foggy. She tried to call, but her attempts were frustrating and unsuccessful, so she resigned herself to sitting at the table watching out the window for someone, anyone, to return home- “It was a long day,” are the first words she utters to me. My heart breaks as I dwell on the thoughts that must have raced through her mind, the final conversations she must have had with him, sitting there all alone with her partner of 62 years who had left her for good. After many hours of waiting, my grandma finally saw my dad drive up. Shortly after that, we got the call. The next few hours were a swirl of flashing lights, tears, hugs and family.
It takes a while for them to come get my grandpa’s body. At one point, the room where he lays is filled with people-stories are shared, jokes are told, tears are shed. They finally arrive and I help move my grandpa’s body onto the stretcher. It’s surreal and surprisingly not disturbing. He’s almost too tall for the stretcher-he would have liked that. As they drive my grandfather away, my dad melts-the gravity of the loss is crushing, the sorrow palpable. My brother and I hug him and we weep together. Then he says, “Okay, let’s be Norwegian.” We all laugh. He means let’s dry it up and be strong-it’s part of our heritage. My dad’s sense of humor in this difficult time will save us. It’s part of the legacy left by my grandfather, his dad, who was always witty, clever, able to lighten heavy moments.
I haven’t experienced a loss like this in my adult life. I am so proud of my grandpa. He was a good man who lived life until he didn’t. I don’t remember hearing him complain about anything ever. He was a diligent worker and genuinely happy in whatever circumstances he found himself. I am sad for my dad and his siblings, their spouses, and, mostly, for my grandma. His absence will be more obvious to them, their world has truly been altered.
I’m finding grief is a process. Sometimes in my swirling head a thought breaks through and I feel the sting of fresh tears, the tears I thought I had already cried. I know they say time heals all wounds, but I think time will bring a downpour of reminders that Grandpa is gone. For now, I’ll attempt to load my dishwasher tricking my mind into focusing on something else. It will work temporarily, but the sadness is right there below the surface of survival and denial. I know eventually the doing won’t be so difficult, but right now, the shock is still new, the emotions still raw and the tears just a memory away.
If you love her like I do now, you can find her at Everyday is a Journal Page.
See y’all on Monday!