Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Came Too Soon

My Papa died on Friday night.  I was running behind with errands and told myself I would go in the morning to visit because I needed to get home and do our Friday family movie & pizza night and it was already dinner time.  I was on my way home and I just couldn't drive by without stopping in - so I said I'd go really quick.  I ended up there for a very long time.  I didn't want to leave him.

Papa looked nothing like himself at this point, but he was comfortable and breathing steady, which was better than the day before when he was in pain and his breath kept stopping.  His son Mark was there so I stayed and talked to him for a while.  We told some stories about Papa and laughed and cried over them.  My aunt got there and we did some more of the same and then I leaned over and, holding his cold hand, said "Papa, I'm going to go have pizza with the kids... it's not Tuesday (we did pizza every Tues with him for a LONG time when I was a young adult) but we do ours on Friday. So I'm going to go do that and I'll be back tomorrow"  I told him I loved him, thanked him for all he has done for me and said it was okay to go. He squeezed my finger a tiny bit and his eyebrow went up. (maybe just from pain) I prayed for him silently... for God's mercy and for his salvation.

About 15 minutes after I got home, my mom called me to tell me he was gone.  I was so caught off guard.  I was *just* there - and he was doing ok... whatever 'ok' means for someone dying from multiple cancers - and even though I knew it was coming soon, I cried like it was brand new news.  And then after a few phone calls, I had to pull it together to sit down with the kids for their movie.

It made me think of when I went to Rachel's grave after the first snow fall in November and this tree stopped me in my tracks.

It was as if the tree wasn't ready for the snow.  

She knew it was coming... clearly her leaves were preparing.  The cool nights and warm days of autumn were stripping the life from them and they had started to fall.  You could look from a distance and know that one day soon, that tree would be bear.  The natural order of the seasons of life was taking place... and the cold and bare days of winter were not going to be able to be avoided.  With each and every day, her leaves grew weaker and more brittle as they one by one fell to the ground to blend back into the earth beneath her.  But I don't think I've ever seen so many leaves on top of so much snow... or maybe I just never noticed.

Every fall, as the last of the leaves falls to the ground, my heart feels heavy as I prepare for a long and cold and lonely winter -  like the trunk of a tree, surviving and standing after the loss of a huge part of who I am.  Because even though the last part of my journey with Rachel alive was beautiful for people to watch, it was only a short part of my long journey.

Often times I've been thankful for the time I had before she died to 'prepare' - to do and say the things I wanted to... and after this last 4 months of watching my Papa slowly die, I was thankful for the chance to tell him all I wanted to tell him.  It was August to December, just like Rachel... 

Some think having time knowing it's coming makes it 'easier' than if it were sudden... and I've always thought I agreed with that.  But I'm not so sure anymore.  There is an unreal amount of stress on your mind and heart as you wait for someone to die.  There is a weight of guilt as you continue to live while they die.  There is a constant sadness and a grief that is so out of place when nobody has died yet.  And there is the fact that, even if you have that time, it doesn't change anything about how it feels when they are actually gone.

My Papa spent every day for months, maybe even years visiting my Nana's grave just up the hill from where Rachel is buried.  Most people never understood what someone would do at a grave every day for all that time... and now decades later, I have spent similar days at a grave in the same cemetery.  I'm guessing since my Nana died on January 16th, Papa's autumns probably felt similar - and I'm guessing he spent more than his share of time gazing upon this same tree. I'm sure my mom has done the same. It's directly down the hill from my Nana's spot. 

I look at this photo, with the snow under the leaves - totally opposite of how things 'should be' and that's how I feel.  I feel like winter came too soon.  I feel like all the preparation in the world wouldn't have had me ready.  I feel like it caught me off guard, even though I saw it coming.  

1 comment:

  1. (((HUGS)))
    I'm so sorry to hear about your Papa
    God Speed, if you need anything please don't hesitate to call.


We so appreciate your words of encouragement!
Thank you! ♥ The Aubes