It has been almost a week since you left us. It has been almost a week of me trying to keep busy and waiting until I knew I was ready to think about the fact that you are gone. I don't know how to do this, and I didn't want to do this. It's strange because I cry about absolutely ridiculous things, but then this happened and I didn't want to cry about it. I wanted to be strong and accept that loss is a fact of life and carry on because then maybe it wouldn't hurt as much. However, when I shared how I was feeling with one of my best friends this week she responded with the truth I needed to hear. Just release it and don't think twice because he was a man that deserves grieving for and that is not something to feel bad about. So this is me, releasing all the noise and memories and words that have built up this week in the best way I know how.
It is impossible to think of a word or phrase that best describes who you were, because you were so many things. You were sarcastic and stubborn while also loving and adventurous. You were a giver of advice (whether asked for or not) and a listening ear whenever I just needed to someone to hear me. You made honey and my favorite blackberry jelly, you sang in choirs and played instruments, you traveled the world and saw places and did things that many people go their whole lives only dreaming of. Of all the things you were and all the qualities you portrayed, the one thing that keeps coming to mind is the way you loved people.
Grandma messaged me after you passed and told me how much you loved my sister and me, and while sometimes people hear that and feel reassurance or validation, I read those words and I already knew it was true. I never had a question in my mind how much you loved me. You loved your family and everyone else around you so much. Of course when I was younger it was embarrassing for me going places together and seeing you strike up conversation with anyone and everyone, but as I got older it was something that I loved and treasured about you. I remember visiting you in 2013 and going to Starbucks with you in the mornings and you knew all the employees by name, and they all knew you. That was just the kind of person you were and the impression you made on people. To never have to question your love or whether or not I made you proud because you would constantly not only tell me but make me feel it, that was and still is the most amazing feeling.
While I'm definitely feeling a lot of emotions surrounding this loss, anger is not among them. It seems weird to say as anger is one of the stages of grief, especially considering how young you still were and how much time seems robbed. However that's what I'm most thankful for is the time. All the times you came to visit and took walks with me around the neighborhood, or the times I visited you and got to see the things you cared about and the way you interacted with the people and world around you. The times you came for Christmas or would send cards for Valentine's Day or any other minor holiday that gave you a reason to send a card. I'm thankful for the times we got to ride in your old big van that smelled like your tea and you would give me your life lessons. And I'm thankful for the time we got with you a month ago when you were still with us and laughing and we got to tell you in person that you were going to be a great grandfather again. It would be so easy to focus on the time lost and be angry about what potential moments we won't get, but I think of how much time we got to spend together as a family despite the distance and I can't feel anything but thankful.
One of my very favorite things about our relationship, especially in the recent years was our phone calls. You would always call on birthdays and holidays, but then we started calling each other more regularly just to catch up and share gripes and praises, and while I know it was never often enough it still always meant so much to me. I have three saved voicemails from you in my phone right now - one from my birthday and two from Thanksgiving when we were playing phone tag. All three of them end with the promise of "talk to you later", and we always did talk later. I don't know why you had to leave us when you did and I probably will never fully understand, but I do know that for the first time in a very long time you are no longer in pain. I know that you are in heaven singing louder than ever and that I will see you again, so for now it's my turn to say that I love you and I will definitely talk to you later.