When Grief Sneaks Up

My last post was about my father in law having cancer.  And this one is about his death.  He passed away on Saturday, September 12.  My husband flew down on Friday, September 11.  I am convinced he was hanging on until my husband and his brother were in the same room.

We’ve known this was coming.  It was inevitable.  Well, there are miracles, and I will still believe that even if one didn’t happen this time.  But, we knew.  I talked to my daughter about it, and she knew it was coming.  But it still shocked us.

Up until I was cooking dinner tonight, I had a lot of distractions from grief.  Well, to be honest, I have 2 distractions.  One is 6 and one is 1.  And they distract me with their ever present need for me, or for me to do something for them.  My husband was home so he was out in the backyard with them while I cooked.  And I was browning up meat for shepards pie when I had a memory come flashing back to me, and then I was working hard not to start sobbing because of it.

When my husband and I moved to Florida to go to graduate school, my father in law drove down with me.  My husband was already down there, and I had to drive some of our stuff down.  So my father in law drove in his van in front of me, and I drove my car behind him.  We were both loaded with stuff for the new place.  It was a fun trip.  We would chat on our phones if needed.  I sang into a tootsie pop.  A lot.  And we made it down there.  To the tiny apartment we had rented while house hunting.

While in the apartment one night, my father in law suggested we make meatballs.  I told him I didn’t know how.  So he taught me.  And I’m pretty sure I set off the fire alarm in the process.  But we also talked and worked side by side in this tiny kitchen we had.

Such a forgetful memory. Until the person in the memory dies.  And you are doing something that you once did with them.

Grief sneaks up on you.  And I see it with my daughter too.  She will be fine, playing, smiling…and then she just starts sobbing and says “Grandpa!”  It’s like a wave that hits you.  You aren’t expecting it and then WAM! You have tears in your eyes and your heart suddenly feels this ache that makes you want to scream and cry.

It’s going to be a long grieving process in our house.  My father in law is a very loved man.  And his death has left a hole in our hearts, and in our lives.  I’m confident that grief will be sneaking up on us a lot, especially in the next year.  We’ve always had Christmas with him.  And a vacation in the summer.  And we’ve used Skype or FaceTime at least 3 times a week for years.  Plus Facebook has that “On this day” feature that gave me this picture today:


This was 3 years ago today.  For Bears/Packers day at preschool.  When she wore her Steelers gear.  And Grandpa happened to be visiting us.

It’s times like these that I am glad I go crazy with pictures.  I have so many pictures of my daughter with her grandfather and I feel like these will help us work through our grief.  We will have these reminders of great memories with him.  And we will be able to tell the stories about the pictures to Evelyn since she won’t get to know him like Annabelle did.

Death is sad.  Cancer sucks.  But love is still alive.  And I’ll take these waves of grief, if they provide these brief glimpses of the love we have for a man we will all miss very much.

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