The passing of a good man

Last night a good man’s body died.

I say that because, based on the physical evidence and my personal spiritual beliefs, his consciousness and the essence of who he is, left the body on Sunday.  The time in between was spent in the company of his adult children and older grandchildren.  Witnessing moments of their grief and emotion and trying to be supportive and encouraging while remaining unobtrusive all while dealing with some ongoing emotional issues of my own has been an interesting thing.

I’ve known this family for 16 years and it has been a sporadic, distant, and sometimes hurtful relationship between the various family members and myself.  But, in all that time, this man never really participated in the family drama.  He was a quiet, solemn, and conservative man of faith.  If he disapproved or disagreed with you, he didn’t ridicule, belittle, or diminish you in any way.  He was the center and the calm in the midst of the storm.

We never really got to know each other at all.  My piece of that is because I was so busy struggling with my own issues and trying to protect myself from perceived rejection, I didn’t make the effort and assumed he didn’t care to.  However, since he was the grandfather of my youngest child, I recently made the effort to make sure she spent some time with him and her grandmother.  I’m so very glad I did.  The love that he displayed for her whenever she was around was immediate and genuine.  The smile that would light up his face and the laughter that would rumble out and fill the air were wonderful and warming.  Due to another recent death in the family, we actually got to spend some time in his company the day before his stroke, this past weekend.  It’s comforting to know that she made him smile some more just before he left us.

I had an opportunity to visit him in the ICU.  It was just the two of us.  I could see that the essence of who he was had moved out of the physical body.  As I stood there, my hand holding and touching his, I was overcome with sadness and grief because I hadn’t taken the time or made the effort to truly get to know this man and because my daughter didn’t have enough time to be with her grandpa, as well as the knowledge that the man I love was suffering such a great loss.  A few hours before he fully passed, I was made aware that he had carried a picture in his wallet of my two oldest children from the first year I was in relationship with his son.

That revelation comforted me and helped me to understand that, even though we always felt separated from the family, in his mind we were part of it.  I realized how much time and opportunity I have wasted because of my fears, misconceptions, and false beliefs.  I’m now facing the fact that I’ve been as guilty of judging the members of his family and rejecting them, as I have felt judged and rejected by them.

Sadly, this loss is what it has taken to wake me up, grow me up, and move me into willingness to step out of my comfort zone to be more interactive with the family as a whole.  Gladly, the family is coming together and connections are being made, that will hopefully grow beyond this period of grief and loss.  I’m looking forward to forming and facilitating attachments to family for myself and my daughter in ways not experienced by me and other members from my side of the family before.  I’m grateful for this legacy given to me by the passing of this good man.

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