On September 26, 2019 I heard the news I had dreaded: my sweet grandpa had passed away. My heart was broken. All I had wanted was one more moment, one more hug, one more time to hear him call me his sugar like he always did. Even though I had been up to see him twice since he had been diagnosed with Acute Leukemia, I had planned to visit one more time, and then I got sick, so I never had that moment. Hours after I heard the news I began writing this letter as part of my healing and would go on to share it at his funeral. I hope you can find comfort and healing if that’s what you need as you read these words, but most of all, I know my grandpa would want you to know and experience his Savior, His Jesus. So I pray that through these words you can find His love and saving grace.
When I heard the news of your passing, my heart immediately filled up with all kinds of emotions. I felt a wave of guilt wash over me because I didn’t get to have the goodbye I wanted. Our goodbye was more of a see you later. I really thought I’d see you one more time before you passed. But in the hours since then, I’ve realized several things.
First, a million more moments would have never been enough. No matter what happened, I would always want another moment. Even if we had had an official goodbye, I would’ve wanted more. I would’ve wanted you to squeeze my hand, hug my neck, and call me sugar one more time.
Second, it will be hard to live in a world that you are not in. You had a way of making each one of us feel like we were your favorite even though we know we were all your favorite. Every time I see a $50 bill I’ll think of how you would carry two of them in your pocket just in case you came across someone in need. When I hear someone ask how are you doing, I’ll expect to hear, “If I was any better you couldn’t stand me.” When someone says, “Praise the Lord,” I’ll look to heaven and hear you whisper it again. Every time I see your great-grandchildren dance I’ll remember how many times you would dance with your wife, daughter, granddaughters, and even great-granddaughters over the years. When I see a Ford tractor I’ll forever see the many rides you gave us grandkids. And the one specific time when we rode in the trailer instead and how silly we looked after we were covered with mud and cotton after you drove through the fields, except for my brother because he was always in the tractor right beside you. Every time it rains, I’ll hurry up and brew some coffee so I can sit on the porch and listen to the sound of it just like we did so many times. When we celebrate Christmas this year we’ll all be looking to see if anyone is trying to open their presents early just like you always did.
And then I remember that while you’re not here in physical form, your memories live on in the many lives you touched. Your laugh and silly sense of humor and your tender heart lives on in your children and their spouses. Your many sayings and your generosity lives on in each of your grandchildren and spouses, and your dancing hands and feet lives on in all of your great-grandchildren. Most of all, the way you loved, fully lives on in your sweet spouse of 72 years.
Third, even if you had the opportunity to come back here, you wouldn’t. As much as you love all of us, and you love each of us fiercely, you love Jesus more. And that’s what makes you one of the greatest people I know. You lived out your salvation and faith every single day. You loved your wife like Christ loves the church. You cared for your children and grandchildren like God cares for us. In the weeks before you died, you were still sharing your faith and reflecting and testifying how God had worked and had his hand in every part of your life.
So, the most important thing I’ve realized is that I will see you later. We didn’t have an official goodbye here on earth but maybe we didn’t need one. Jesus is my Savior and when I close my eyes on this earth I will open them and see Jesus and you’ll be there to welcome me with the many others who have gone before me celebrating and praising the One who has rescued us. So because of that, we don’t grieve like those with no hope as it says in 1 Thessalonians 4:13. The hope for us today is that if we accept Christ as our Savior and receive his salvation we will join you in heaven forever.
So Sugar, I’m going to miss you every single day of the rest of my life, but I’ll see you later. And for that I “PRAISE THE LORD!”