We all need reminders that life is precious. If we all had more, perhaps our relationships would be different, our lives and our existence. It’s a bit of a black fortune, I think, to know what true loss feels like.
The fortune is only that now you truly appreciate life. We all say “life is short” but now you know it is and you live your life differently than you lived it before. There is a stark difference in your life between that before and after and it’s very hard to explain to those who have not lost or experienced such a tragedy.
The black part of my black fortune is a sharp dagger in the pit of my stomach that feels raw again every time Benjamin asks, “Where is my grandpa?” The questions are growing more frequent as he gets older and more curious. I answer as best as I am capable and quietly hope against everything that Benjamin never sees me suffer in the same way.
“Is he in Heaven?”
The Heaven idea had to have come from someone else. They must have responded to Benjamin’s declaration that “My grandpa died of cancer,” with a thoughtful, “Well, he’s in Heaven now, Honey.”
Because I am not religious and don’t pretend to be, I have been telling Benjamin that his grandfather is in the clouds.
“Sure, some people call it Heaven, babe. But it could be another planet, or maybe even a star. We just don’t know. But he is out there somewhere and you know where he always is?”
“Where?” asks Benjamin.
“In your heart. Shut your eyes.” We shut our eyes together and I put my hand on his heart.
“Do you feel him?”
I am trying to feel him as well, I know he is there. More apparently on some days than others.
“No, I don’t.”
“Well, he is there whether you can feel him or not.”
“Can I get a jet pack to go up to see him?”
“No, you can’t.”
“I’m sorry, Benjamin, but you won’t get to see him while you’re here.”
“But when I die I can see him?”
And then he gazes out the window at the clouds overhead and I can see him wishing he could meet this person, this magical grandfather. Benjamin has no grandfather, aside from John Bear’s dad, and even his Uncles all live out of state. It’s just so hard because my father would have been one of those grandfathers that moves mountains for his grandkids.
These conversations almost always happen in the car.
Maybe it’s because every morning we drive by my father’s childhood street. He only grew up a few streets down from ours, something I treasure. Maybe he walked on the sidewalk in front of our house. Maybe he can see us now, here. Happy. But, maybe he can’t. There is no way of knowing and with every year that passes I miss him even more, I miss saying “Dad” out loud, I miss his smell, his long, Dad arms, his inner strength and his smile. But most of all, I want him here for Benjamin.
So, this black fortune.
It does give you awareness and makes life more vivid, but there is nothing you wouldn’t give to have them back. Your only option is to keep living and live on for the one you have lost, as they would have wanted you to.
That’s why Matt Logelin, one of my dearest blogging and real-life friends, is a hero in my eyes. Matt lost his wife Liz just a few hours after she gave birth to their daughter, Maddy. His pain over the loss of Liz and his love for their beautiful daughter Maddy is now on the pages of his new book.
The book, out today is titled Two Kisses for Maddy and it will change your life.
Please, please read the excerpt here. The forward alone will stay with you forever.
And, Matt, you are truly today’s Shakespeare. There is no doubt about that. And a remarkable writer.