It feels like a death.01/12/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips
Grandparents are such a special gift in every kids life. Even if they aren’t someone you see often. With parents that had migrated to Missouri from Iowa and Michigan, seeing my grandparents on either side wasn’t a weekly or even a monthly occasion. Each time they visited though or we made the trek to either side it was filled with such excitement and dreams of what we were going to do while we were together. It was especially special to see my grandpa Kent…him and I shared the same birthday and I was gifted with his first name as my middle name so naturally I thought we shared a bond superior to all the other grand-kids. Of course this was not the case but in my child mind it made complete sense. Grandma Kent had passed away when I was 8 and although I do have memories of her they are dim and vary between what I actually remember and the stories I have been told about her. When grandpa would visit though the times were filled with horse rides on his knee, the old lady who swallowed the fly song complete with the best pop in the world which only he could do on the side of his cheek, magic tricks and lots of laughter. One year we got a card from him or rather each of us got our own card, grandma had passed at this point because we were living in the house my parents are in now, the cards were all the same, a snowy scene with a cabin on the front with the reddest front door I had ever seen on a house…It was such an amazing card in my 9 year old mind. Inside of this card was a whole dollar. Each of us kids got a whole dollar and we thought it was the best thing in the world. I look at my kids now and think that there is no way they would be as excited for a dollar bill as I was in that point in my life. Does that come down to parenting, society, inflation or what? Anyway, in April of that year is when I found out grandpa was sick…he had cancer in his bones. I didn’t realize at that time what that meant for the outlook of our family or that my summer would look very different that year. After papa got done teaching in May they packed the car up and we all moved to Des Moines to help care for grandpa. When you are a kid a move like that doesn’t really phase you, you don’t understand the seriousness of it and instead it is an adventure, a chance to explore new areas. On a whole it was a pretty great summer for a kid. Grandpa’s house was right behind an old laundry mat and us kids loved climbing the rock wall to sneak in and see if we could find quarters left behind. The yellowish house was small and right in the city but it was next to an empty lot that was perfect for flying kites, running, baseball and fun with other neighborhood kids. It was the closest to city living I had ever been and I thought it was the bee’s knees. Everyday we would pray for grandpa to get better. First his meals started with us at the table, hospital visits weren’t such an ordeal and him coming outside was normal. As the summer progressed meal time was shared with him less and his sleeping increased. I would sit on a stool next to his bed and read to him. When he was feeling good he would still do his magic and taught us his songs. He would often lean over or open his eyes and say ‘Natasha, we are going to get our birthday together this year.” He would call me on the phone…the birthday’s leading up to that 10th birthday when I was in Missouri and him in Iowa and he would ask me what I wanted. I always said the same thing…”grandpa, I want a pony and a birthday with you.” He always promised that one day we would get our birthday but he wasn’t sure about the pony. The weeks went by and it was said to us kids that instead of praying for grandpa to get better we should pray for him to not feel so much pain. I went to a concert the night of July 25th…grandpa had been sleeping all day and I went in and kissed him goodbye like normal…he knew I was there but didn’t say anything. When I got home that night it was so late and we went straight to bed…I was excited to tell him all about the music I had heard on the capitol lawn and mom was quick to say that I could tell him tomorrow. That house was so small there in Des Moines Iowa but there was a screened in porch on it that was such a blessing. All my cousins had come into to town for grandpa and my birthday and we had been planning a birthday party. It was a big year between the two of us, I was turning 10 and grandpa was turning 70. That next morning, July 26th, mom and papa took me on the porch when I got up and told me that grandpa had quietly went home to be with the Lord. I don’t remember a whole lot of the next hour. I remember screaming and crying and saying that he promised we would have a birthday together. I remember being crushed. The next day, July 27th, I awoke…it was our birthday…grandpa died one day before we could spend it together. We still had a party, he gave me a dress and a card that I still have…I started crying of course when I opened it and couldn’t stop…it took one of my cousins to do something silly and my uncontrollable tears switched to uncontrollable laughter. That loss has never left me. It was the first real loss I had ever experienced…I mean I had gone through losing grandma Kent but this was different because I remembered it, I lived it, and I changed through it.
What I am going through right now feels like a death, it feels final even though I don’t always want it to feel that way.It feels like there isn’t hope and that my prayer should change from one of healing to one of easing the pain and transition. I talked to a dear friend today via text and these are the exact texts I sent her after I told her that Matt was getting a lawyer and not knowing if it was a ploy or for real. She asked how I felt about it and I said: “Like a knife just stabbed me in the gut. On one hand I am relieved and on another I am mad. Mad he doesn’t even want to work on things or see my efforts. Mad that I want to be selfish and that I deserve more but in that very sentence wish we could work it out. Mad that this all might be a ploy to get me to come home because he knows my view on marriage. I am just mad. Mad at my mom telling me that I need to stay for the sake of the family unit and comparing it to her marriage when it’s not even close to her marriage. Mad that he tells me I am ruining the boys and destroying the family by doing what I did when I keep asking him to see the boys or I have them call him. Obviously I am having some anger issues today. :)” But that is where I am right now, I think there are phases and there are different stages of grieving. Grieving for something that was full of life at one point, that was blooming and growing and now appears to be dying…withering away into nothing but anger and frustration. I feel like I did that day before I turned 10…wanting to scream, to kick and to say it isn’t true…that we promised each-other more time, that it shouldn’t be this painful and that I should be able to fix it. That is where I am at today. Not a very strong place to be but that is life and right now…in this moment…this is where I am.
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