It's hard to think that a year ago one of the most important men in my life left me, and shortly after another important man entered. The two men have never crossed paths, but I have spoken before of my thoughts about their resemblance. They are two peas in a pod. Leo is just like his Grandpa Grady. He is just as mischievous, stubborn, and playful as his Grandpa was. He likes his cookies, and he teases puppies to NO end! And I know that he is being watched over closely by his Grandpa.
This last year has been full for me. It has been full of joy and full of sadness. This year has been full of grief and full of new life. It's amazing to think of the many transformations that can take place. How one day can change it all. One year ago today my thoughts were consumed with trying to bring Leo home. Not realizing that I only had moments left with my Dad. How many times do I wish I could go back to those last moments? Honestly, probably too many to count. But my focus goes back to trudging through this first year. And I often am amazed at how far my family has come.
This past year our family has struggled through the holidays, the mundane days, and the celebrations. We celebrated my Dad’s 60th birthday the day of his funeral, and we enjoyed his favorite Oreos. We even found some of his hidden chocolate in the garage freezer. I then warned Mom that she was going to find hidden candy all over the house. We struggled through Father's Day, thinking of the one card we wanted to buy.
We had two new boys enter our family, both named for the one person we all miss. Every day we wished that Dad could see his two newest grandsons, and still be there to see his older grandchildren grow. Some of the kids asked difficult questions, others assumed that Grandpa was in the sky with balloons (that was Miss E, she was on a big “Up” kick at the time).
The holiday season loomed over us like a dark, stormy cloud. However, Dad sent us a message at Christmas that told us loud and clear that he is happy where he is. In January we learned that my Mom, who may not have looked at it in years, would be sure to start searching for her wedding album when we had snatched it for a surprise on their 40th wedding anniversary.
We have laughed, we have cried, but most of all we have survived. Something that this time last year, we weren’t sure was going to happen. This past year passed in a haze. There are months I don’t remember, summer flew by in a blur. Special times stand out in my memory: meeting my son for the first time; bringing him home; introducing my two children to each other; finally introducing Leo to his grandparents and extended family. All of these moments so special, but something was missing from all of those moments. A piece of me was gone.
However, I look at our family today and I see healing taking place. We all are walking around with a little bit of relief, a relief that is generated from the realization that we made it through all of the firsts. Our survival mode is slowly going away, replaced by confidence. A confidence that comes from the awareness that, although we miss him terribly, we can make it through the day… the week… and the year…
Dad, we miss you. We would love to have you back here on earth with us, but we know that your time is not our time. Thank you to you and Mom for creating a wonderful family. Our family may be missing an important link, but we now hold a newfound strength. Thank you for giving us that strength to carry on without you. We feel your presence as our lives change, and please know that we need you here with us as much as you can be. We will love you forever, and we will miss you always.