It wasn’t easy for him.
He wasn’t planning on going.
He said he couldn’t bear the thought of being there without her.
I woke up the morning of my wedding, ready to begin the first day of my lifelong relationship with my soul mate.
My Grandpa woke up, and was faced with the unexpected and harsh reality of having to say goodbye to his.
Can you imagine? Spending 60 years of your life with someone. And then one morning…they’re gone? Having normal morning conversation one minute, and then saying your final “I love you” ?
My entire family was shocked to their core.
She was fine Friday.
She came to the rehearsal dinner.
Laughed. Hugged. Enjoyed the evening and basked in the celebration of her granddaughter and new grandson’s young love.
Those few short minutes we all keep replaying in our minds.
The painful memories and cluttered thoughts.
She was getting ready to go to the salon to get her hair fixed for the wedding.
Jay had to make the call.
Joseph had to drive the ambulance
Jenny had to hold her hand as she took her last breath.
Daddy had to say goodbye as they closed the ambulance doors, then be greeted by both his son’s arms as he arrived at the hospital… and hear that she didn’t make it.
Momma had to pray. She had to put her arms around Grandpa and pray for his precious heart.
Suzanne had to stand beside Jacob as Jay told him over the phone.
Jay had to tell Ray.
But Grandpa. Oh, Grandpa. Grandpa had to say goodbye to his soul mate.
Grandpa had to take his first step in 60 years….alone.
Grandpa had to say goodbye.
Grandpa had to feel half of his heart stop beating.
And then someone had to call me. Someone had to let me know, in the middle of wedding preparations with my bridesmaids….that my sweet precious Grandma had unexpectedly gone to see Jesus. Annalee held me. I collapsed into her arms. My knees were weak and my legs felt nonexistent. I never want to feel that pain again. We cried. And cried. And cried. My bridesmaids prayed and sat with me during the shock.
I was stuck in Pulaski.
Joseph had to drive and get me, and Ray met us at the hospital.
Jay and Jacob were waiting for me in the parking lot.
Ready to wrap their arms around me and be the strong, loving, dependable support system I’ve always known.
And they were.
They immediately embraced me. One brother on each side. All three clinging to each other. We held each other tight and sobbed over the grief of our Grandma’s death.
We walked in the hospital. Down the hall into Grandpa’s room. He was broken. We were all broken.
I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to make it down the aisle. I couldn’t imagine reading my vows to Ray and being sincere about this being the “happiest day of my life.” We didn’t know what to do. Our hearts cried out in desperation. Pleading for Our Father to draw near to our family. We couldn’t imagine facing the 300 smiling guests at our wedding – ready to celebrate our new life together. We couldn’t imagine smiling period.
But somehow it happened. Somehow, between the hours of 2 and 11pm…God gave us all the strength to get through the day. Not just to do it…but to do it with JOY. I can say with full sincerity that I have never been so happy in my entire life. Sure, the entire day wasn’t wonderful. That morning was hell. But from the hours of 2:30pm (when I first saw Ray), until 11 pm (when we said our goodbyes)…it was absolutely perfect. The whole day was not perfect. But the evening was. And that is only by the grace of God. The only way we could have made it through the day, was with the joy of knowing that we would see Grandma again. That she was dancing with Jesus. That she was made whole. That she would want us to continue with the ceremony. And that she would want us to be happy during it.
We didn’t think Grandpa was going to be able to make it to the wedding.
I wasn’t expecting to see him there. He said he couldn’t do it without her.
But he did.
He was grieving, he was in shock, he couldn’t bring himself to smile.
He was broken.
But he was there.
He looked numb during the ceremony, and stared off into space during family pictures. I don’t blame him one bit.
But he was there…
Then, one of my favorite moments in the whole day happened.
Grandpa asked me to dance.
Long before the dancing started.
he walked over
Slowly. Feeble. The weight of the world on his shoulders
and he said through tears
“I was wondering if it might be alright if I danced with you, honey”
So we danced.
And Grandma smiled.
She was there on our wedding day. As the sun came through the trees and the wind rustled the leaves… we could feel her. She was there. We knew she was celebrating with us. In her new, perfect, completely whole body.
And then, as Grandpa took my hand, and we started to dance, Grandma smiled sweetly and said “well.. I want you to look..”
Just like she always did. Every Christmas. Every birthday. Every new family announcement. “well..I want you to look..”
We still haven’t been able to process it all. Saturday was a whirlwind. A roller coaster of emotions for the entire family. Look at his face.. I still don’t know how he did it. I can’t imagine the grief in his heart. He kept saying “I’m sorry” over and over again and quietly whispered “I just wish Grandma was here” through his tears.
But we danced.
This memory.. I will have for a lifetime. I will cherish these pictures forever. Thank you, dear friend for taking them.
It’s so surreal. Our entire family is stretched thin with grief. I’m sure as the days pass we’ll slowly regain our strength.
But for right now..all we can do is pray. And love. and thank God for the precious moments we still have.. and the memories we’ll hold on to forever.
She was a beautiful woman. She touched many lives.
Their love was rare.
Her legacy will live through generations to come.
After all, Kate and I are going to finish the quilt together.
Please pray for Grandpa’s broken heart. And his children as they try to piece it back together.
Joy. Will. Grow.
Much, much, much, love..