One year ago today, I was taking my last college final. It was for a 400 level statistics course, the hardest class I’d ever taken. I had to present a research poster with a partner that was worth 30% of my grade.

We got an A. I had my 4.0 GPA for the semester, and I would graduate summa cum laude. Thrilled, I bounced out of the classroom and down the stairs to meet my friend Elizabeth for some sweet tea. She looked oddly serious as I approached her.

Elizabeth told me that my Granddaddy had been moved to hospice. He was dying. My dad would be arriving on campus in 30 minutes to pick me up.

I was too stunned to cry, too stunned to do much of anything. My elation over my A was shattered. Granddaddy had been diagnosed with lymphoma earlier in the school year, but this was a sudden turn for the worse.

I’ve got to get my stuff out of the dorm, I’ve got to clean for white glove, I’ve got to get out of here, I thought. Elizabeth offered to do my white glove cleaning for me. We went to my RA to see if that would be approved. The RA said she would do it herself and not to worry about it. Then I got out of my “must get things done” mode and cried.

My fiance had helped me pack my car the previous weekend. Elizabeth took my remaining belongings to her apartment for safekeeping, and I got in the car with my dad. I called my fiance to let him know what was happening. Then I called my boss and let him know I wouldn’t be back at work the next day.

Granddaddy died a week later, but the next day was the last day he was really able to communicate. He told me he loved me, that he was proud of me, and that he was glad I was getting married. I squeezed his giant hand and told him I loved him too.

A little over a month later, it was the day before my wedding. I was counting the boutonnieres and realized that I had one more than I needed. Puzzled, I counted off the people who would be wearing them. My dad, my fiance’s dad, my pastor, my fiance’s step-grandpa, Granddaddy…not Granddaddy.

Granddaddy wasn’t coming. I had ordered the flowers before he died. I held what should have been his boutonniere in my hand and tried to pull myself together.

Grief sneaks up on you. Grief is an extra boutonniere, a Scrabble game, a crossword puzzle in the newspaper. It’s a letter that I received from him in third grade. It’s not orderly or logical. Grief is a process, and a year later I haven’t forgotten.

How comforting it is to know that death is not the end.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Revelation 21:4

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1 Comment on Grief Sneaks Up on You

  1. I know how that is. I lost my Grandmother at age 10. I dealt with it as a child, only to be hit by new waves of grief every time I had another baby or reached another milestone. It hurts. I’m sorry for your loss.

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