I know that smile. I was that girl. My Grandfather was my absolute best friend in life for 11 years. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about our walks, our snuggles, our time. I could sit here and talk forever about how horribly I miss him each and every day, and how I will never know a love quite like the love him and I had, ever again. But....it would take me days to say it all, and I would
Besides, I have had, unfortunately, 15 years without him, to cope and grieve, and somewhat deal with the fact that he isn't here anymore. Not that it makes it any easier, and when I see those little girls and their grandpa's, it still stabs an overly sensitive place in my heart that will obviously never heal.
But here's a confession: What I haven't ever exactly dealt with, is the death of my Papa, a year and a half ago. I have valid reasons for not really having closure, but it's like I keep pushing it off, like I'll deal with it another day, and yet I never really do. He died rather unexpectedly while I was on bed rest with Landon. In fact, two days before his funeral, I was admitted to the hospital and missed the entire thing. Which is why I feel like I never really dealt with it. I didn't really deal with the emotions when he was in the hospital, because I was focusing on baby. And then I missed my chance to say goodbye to him properly because I was laying in a hospital bed. And I hate the fact that the only time I was able to get to the hospital was AFTER his stroke, when he was in a state that makes me wonder if he even knew I was there. If I was him, I would be SO upset with me. Why didn't I get there sooner? I know, I was instructed to stay in bed. But he was my Grandfather. And he was the one who had called me just weeks prior to talk and make sure I was following the rules, staying in bed, and letting Jeremy take care of me. To assure me it would all be worth it in the end. So in reality, I know he's not mad at me, I was doing exactly what he told me to do, but I still can't help but wonder if he was secretly thinking, "Why hasn't she come to see me?". There will never be another feeling even close to what I felt laying in that bed while my whole family was there saying goodbye. He has no idea, but my cousin Nick is the one person who gave me comfort that day. I had texted him earlier in the day to say I was so upset that I couldn't be there, and he replied with a simple, "Kelly, he would be so pissed if you were here and not in bed". It made me smile, and made me realize, yes, he WOULD be pissed. So Nick, if you're reading this, thanks. You got me through one of the hardest days ever.
Exactly a month and a day later, Landon was born. He was a month early, and had to spend 5 days in the NICU, but aside from a few minor obstacles, he was FINE. I know, to this day, it was my Papa who made sure of it. I know he had help from my other Grandfather, and from my Nana, and from Jeremy's Grandparents as well, but he was the one who got us through that, I know he is. Nobody will ever convince me otherwise. And he's the one who got me through all the issues that happened with me during that time too. Part of me will always ache when I think of what Jeremy said to me one day while sitting in the NICU holding Landon. He looked at me, looking at my gorgeous son, and said "You know, maybe your Papa had to go so we could have this healthy baby". I know his sentiment, and where he was coming from, but I can't let myself think that. I can't think that I took my cousins grandfather, my Dad's father, my Uncle's father, so that I could have a healthy baby. Even though, I also know, deep in my heart, Papa would gladly have sacrificed himself had he known that it meant I would get a perfect baby boy after all the struggles we had to get him here. But still. I need to tell myself daily that it was just a coincidence. And while it was so nice to have another angel up there looking over us that day, I still would have loved to hear my dad call him up to tell him he was a great grandfather.
This is what I mean. I don't deal with it. I just go back and forth. I can never settle on what I want to think or feel about the situation. And so often, Landon will do something random during the day, and I will think to myself, "Man, Papa would get SUCH a kick out of that". And it's little things. And I don't know why I associate them, I just do. For some reason, I just hear him laughing when Landon attempts to do a somersault but just can't quite make it. Or when he throws ANOTHER handful of food over the side of his high chair, and I'm ready to lose my mind. He would just laugh. I know he would. And it pains me SO much to know that he was SO close to meeting him. That I was so close to seeing one of my grandfathers be a great grandfather to my son. Of course, my faith assures me that he's with us everyday, they all are, and they're all watching, and laughing, and wishing they could be here with us. But really, they have the best seat for watching the little guy grow, and if they weren't up there helping me every.single.day, I'm not sure I would get through some days. So thanks, fellas (and lady!). Love you to the moon and back.
I want to make it clear that I know EXACTLY how lucky I am that I had a grandfather until I was 11, and another until I was 24, and a grandmother until I was 13, and that I STILL have a grandmother, today at 26. I know so many who aren't lucky enough to EVER know their grandparents, so please don't think I am taking a second for granted. But we would all be lying if we said we didn't all wish that we could have more time with those we've lost. No matter how selfish it is.
But I am a lucky ducky to say that my 90 year old grandmother (91 in just a couple months), is still full of life and laughter, and lights up when she sees Landon. And that Jeremy's 88 year old grandmother is the same. And that Landon had a few months with Jeremy's grandfather, whose smile I miss each day. I don't know what it is about me and Grandpa's, I just can't get enough of them. And it is clear that I've passed this trait onto Landon, who loves my dad with such abandon that it makes me tear up just thinking about it. And it lights my heart to see my dad as a grandpa. Yes, I'm a daddy's girl, so what greater joy to see my "hero" with my little man? I only hope that one day I can give him a grandDAUGHTER too. Because I KNOW he would rock that.
A couple weeks ago, after dinner, my in laws were sitting in our kitchen, and we were all just talking. Landon walked right up, and crawled onto Jeremy's dad's lap, and just melted right into him. Cue my heart's explosion. I'm telling you, it is RIDICULOUS how much I love Grandfathers.
But right now, I have a toddler who is throwing his "Old McDonald" book (from his great grandpa Beier, mind you) for me the millionth time, so I think I should probably appease him and read it to him. For the 12th time today. E-I-E-I-O.