I know, it’s been a while. One thing I’ve discovered about myself is – in order to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) – I have to be inspired. If I’m not inspired, I don’t write. But friends, when something does incite me…the words fill my heart until they overflow and spill out onto these pages. So here I am, letting the feelings flow.
On January 31st, I stood with my family around the hospital bed where my grandfather was losing his fight with life. Only a few short days before, we’d taken him in – he just wasn’t feeling well. His body was betraying him. It had been on a long journey, and after 86 years on this earth, it was tired. Even if we weren’t ready, he was and God was calling him home.
This was second time in my life, unfortunately in a very short period of time, that I actually watched as the heart of someone I loved stop beating. Both times, for very different reasons, those hearts stopping broke mine.
What is unique for me, however, is what my first experience of loss gave me for the second.
I was not ready to say goodbye to my Papa. We just moved back to Kansas to be closer to my family, including him. He lived just a few miles down the road, and in the two months since our “relocation” we tried to make a habit of swinging by to see him after picking up Lexi from daycare.
He adored her. It showed every moment she was around him. We’d walk into his house, and his smile would light up the room. But, as with the rest of us, that pleasure was paired with heartache. Where there was one…he wished there were two. He wanted so desperately to know our Emmy. For her to sit on his lap and smile up at him, just like Lexi always did. The sorrow never took away the joy, but it always lived along side it.
When we were leaving to take him into the hospital, I stopped to grab a few photos that were hanging on his fridge. They were of his great-granddaughters – my brother’s girls and mine. We put them near his bed in the ICU. The pictures sparked conversations with the nurses, and through those exchanges they came to know a part of our story and our little girl in heaven.
After a few days’ fight, it became clear that we were going to lose my Papa. So there we were – standing around his bed. He passed peacefully, with loved ones by his side…just the way he wanted to. We were so fortunate in getting to say our goodbyes.
After hugging his neck one last time, I stood to leave the room. One of the nurses, who had been with us throughout the day, hugged me and said, “Every little girl in heaven needs a Papa.”
All of the feelings.
Since that day, I have begun to uncover a very complex part of my child loss journey that I never expected – my daughter’s death gives me hope for heaven.
It is not that I didn’t have hope before. That comes in our Lord and Savior. But this feeling…it’s something entirely different. Because it is not about me…it is about her.
My mortal heart is self-seeking and tells me I want my Papa with me on Earth. Period. I need him here. But the piece of my heart that is in heaven reminds me that there is more to the story. Because now, my Papa is doing something he had longed to do since he first laid eyes on Lexi…he has sweet Emmy sitting on his knee. He gets to watch her smile and laugh and live.
That sweet girl who graced us with her presence for 31 earthly hours has given me such hope – for my loved ones and for myself. Because each person I lose on earth, she gains in His Glory! And one sweet day, friends, it will be me.