Monday, November 1, 2010

What Happens When We Die?

Location: Desk
Listening to: How I Met Your Mother
Today's Odd Holiday(s): All Saint's Day

I wanted to find a picture of my grandpa for today. For a lot of reasons. But mostly because about ten minutes ago I got a phone call from my dad telling me that my grandpa passed away today. And because the holiday fits really well with who he was.

Today is All Saints Day. And my grandpa was a wonderful guy. Saint-like, almost.

My grandpa's family is strongly German. He grew up on a dairy farm and spoke German until he started elementary school. I don't really know how or when he and my grandma met, but I'm sure it was an adorable story. That would only fit, because they're both adorable people.

My grandpa was a hilarious man. One of my most prominent memories as a child was of Christmas on my mom's side of the family. Our family is really close, so we'd all go to my grandparent's house on Christmas Eve. My grandpa would dress up as the Christmas Cow. He would put on this ridiculous cow suit and carry a basket of string cheese and pass it out to all of the kids. I can't remember if we thought it was him or not, but it was pretty much one of the coolest things ever.

A few years ago, my grandpa had a stroke. I've always blamed my self a little, which I know is ridiculous. But I was supposed to be staying with him and my grandma while my parents drove my sister to the airport to see her off for her semester abroad, and I was mad that they didn't trust me to stay home by myself overnight. I wished and wished that something would happen that would let me stay home alone.

And the day they left, shortly after my grandma was supposed to pick me up and bring me to her house, I got a call from my mom telling me grandpa had a stroke and I'd have to stay home alone and was I ok with that?

Be careful what you wish for.

Since then, he's been in a nursing home. He never recovered fully. The past few years he couldn't really speak and was wheelchair-bound. What they think happened today was he had another stroke and it took him. They're not sure yet, though.

I've never had a close family member die before. This is weird for me. My dad's dad died when I was a baby, so it really didn't impact me much.

I just keep thinking about my grandma and how terrible this must be for her. She was always there for my grandpa, even after the stroke. I know things were hard and she put up a huge fight to be able to be his custodial guardian, but she never left his side. And she visited him every day. And we brought him home almost every weekend for a family gathering.

And I keep thinking about my mom and my aunts and uncle, and how hard this has to be for them. They lost their dad. It was sad enough to see them all after the stroke when he was still in the hospital. Everyone was so sad. There were so, so many tears. It hurts to think about.

I guess he's somewhere better now, though. Somewhere where he's not stuck in a wheelchair or struggling to communicate. I don't really know what I believe about what happens when we die. Maybe he's in heaven. Maybe he's a ghost. Maybe he's being reborn and starting a new life as a baby somewhere. But I have to believe that there's something. I can't even fathom that everything just ends.

All I can hope is that wherever he is, whatever happens after we die, he's happy.

If you're religious at all, please pray for my grandpa and my family. If you're not, keep us in your thoughts. I don't usually ask for things like this, but I feel like I could use a little support. I'm not really sure what else to do.

I'll post again soon when I have happier things to say. And I know there are happy things in the making.

Thanks for being there. Thanks for reading. And thanks for being awesome.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your grandpa. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  2. Darlin', I'm sorry about your grandpa, he sounds like an amazing guy (I really find that not using the past tense when talking about late relatives helps). I'm sure there's not much I can say to make you feel better, but as a person who has experienced mass quantities of grief, take comfort in the fact that he'll never really be gone.

    Memories are such powerful things that keep us from feeling like we have ever truly lost things. You will always have those memories, so you will always have your grandpa right there with you.

    Stay strong, you're in my thoughts tonight.

  3. If you can always remember how great he was then he will never really be gone. I lost my father five years ago and he was the greatest man I ever knew. I miss him daily and it does get better. All my condolences to you and your family.

  4. I'm catching up with blogs and couldn't leave this one without saying anything. My prayers are with you and your family. Stay strong!