Healthy Living

When Grief Brings Grace

After my dad died, I always said there would be two instances that would bring his death back to the forefront. There were two living beings who reminded me so much of my dad, and losing them would be losing him all over again.

His older brother walked, talked, and laughed like my dad. That throaty, muffled kind of laugh. The one where you go silent for a second but then out comes the raspy laughter. Even better, their jokes were the same. So, when I would see my uncle after my dad was gone, I could not stop staring because I was soaking up every movement, gesture, voice similarity -– the beauty of seeing my uncle was like seeing my dad once again. I savored it.

I knew when his older brother would pass, another part of him would go, too. There would be nothing to soak in or savor. Another reminder of loss. When my uncle passed, that laugh went with him.

The next thing may seem silly to some, but when you lose someone, you cling to what’s left. This second living thing was my dad’s cat. Oh my, how he loved his sweet pet. My mom? Not so much. So when he could, he would sneak that sweet kitty inside, tuck her inside the arm of his recliner, and they would hang out like old friends. I would walk by, and my dad would whisper his secret so I could reach over and get a good scratch as well.

That sweet kitty cat did outlive my dad though she changed after that and surrounded my mom daily. It was almost like they bonded over the loss and took care of one another. I knew losing this pet would be the next part of losing my dad again. It was hard when she passed – as crazy as it sounds. When that happened, he was gone again.

This summer, my little family of four took a vacation -– we decided on a place where both my uncle and dad loved to go fishing. A beautiful portrait of nature and peace. I could not wait to be in “their” place with my kids, telling them stories and just reliving good moments. On our first day there, it hit me. I was worried about losing my uncle and the family pet; I never thought in a million years I would now be mourning my brother. We suddenly lost him this past January. This loss was bigger. This realization crushed me.

Later that night, we ate dinner at a restaurant, and I was just feeling blue. And not to mention I had a rowdy toddler literally climbing the walls. When we went to pay, we were informed that an elderly man paid our tab. We still have no idea who this mysterious man was, and right away, I perked up. See, I cling to signs. I pray for them so I know my loved ones are always with us. I devour these moments because they make me feel like I am never alone in grief. My sister and I are convinced this elderly man was someone we know very well.

Fast forward to our last night of vacation, and we meet a beautiful woman vacationing with her four granddaughters. As we spoke with her, we learned she was here because it was her husband’s favorite place to go, and he had recently passed. She told stories about their lives while our kids played with her grandkids. When time came to pay the bill and close vacation, we decided to pay it forward and take care of her meal.

On our long drive home, I had so much to reflect on from this week. My memories of my uncle and pet whom my dad loved immensely. The realization that the loss of my brother was hitting me harder than ever. But, someone didn’t want me to think that way; someone brought it all together with our mystery dinner savior and our time with this lovely woman.

I saw those signs of my dad when I visited with my uncle; I saw signs of my dad when that sweet kitty would purr around my legs. I ached for him so much when Heaven called my brother.

As I sat in God’s beauty on our vacation and took the time to let it all soak in, I realized the signs I crave were there the whole time. I will forever grieve the loss of my dad, my uncle, and my brother. And yes, even that darn cat. But, my now children are the two living things on this earth that make me feel my dad is still here.

I always said there would be two instances that would bring my dad’s death back to the forefront. Yet, there are now two living things who remind me so much of my dad. I know he sent me these signs – to help in new grief. He’s just simply paying it forward.

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Follow more of Kim’s journey at Always A New Day Blog.