I hope this doesn't bum you out, but I thought I should probably share my life experiences from the past few weeks. Yep, our life has changed dramatically. My incredible grandfather passed away unexpectedly on Valentine's Day, February 12, 2012. The day started off rather typical. I got the kids ready for daycare/preschool and was off to work. I was sitting in my office when my Aunt was taking a phone call and told me I needed to come into her office and try to get a hold of my dad. At that point, we weren't really sure what was going on, but knew that Grandpa was with the paramedics. After a few moments on the phone with my dad, we got the news that he had officially passed and we were in disbelief.
I left work on a whirlwind and headed to my parents house to be with the family and then we all headed to the hospital to attempt to say our goodbye's. I left the kids at daycare/preschool and pretended to make it a normal day for them. Obviously, Ireland has no clue what's happend. But Judah knew something was up when daddy had come with me to pick him up. We took the kids to Momo & Popo's house thinking it would be a nice distraction- and after several texts/phone calls from so many dear friends who are probably reading this (I can't say thanks enough) we decided to send the kids home with Joe's parents for the night so we could get a full night's sleep and rest and be with my family for "adult" time. Really, I can't say thanks enough to all of you who offered to spend time with the kids...
When we picked Judah up from preschool, we explained to him that Gpa (Great-grandpa) had gone up to heaven to be with Jesus. His immediate response was, "I want to go to heaven and play with Jesus too!" We told him he wasn't going to get to see Gpa anymore, but we could look at lots of pictures and videos we have of him and it would make us smile. Judah is a pretty curious kid and he likes to ask lots of questions. We tried to keep his routine pretty normal, but with all the family get-togethers, dinners, services, people constantly around us, he knew something was up. Especially because GG (Great-grandma) was with us and he couldn't understand why Gpa wasn't there too. So pretty much every time we see GG- he asks for Gpa...and we ask Judah right back, "Where do you think Gpa is?" and he'll say, "He's in heaven playing with Jesus." or "He's in heaven playing his trumpet." It's probably a daily routine with him right now. But it's one that I cherish. Because you know that he loved and misses Gpa as much as we do and he keeps his legacy alive.
We didn't get together as often as we should have with Gpa, but when we did, Judah was sure to have a blast. Gpa would get down on his hands and knees and play "tractors" with him. He would play his trumpet for him whenever he asked. He watch goofy youtube videos with him on his computer, shared ice cream with him, commented on every facebook post with Judah (or commented to me via text), and was always so proud of our little 2 year old. There aren't too many great-grandpa's that I know that would crawl around on the ground with a 2 year old. He lit up the few times we surprised him for a visit at church and would take us to lunch and spoil us rotten! Those memories I will forever cherish.
When he sees balloons, Judah thinks of Gpa in heaven (we sent balloons to him- it just seemed like a practical way to reach heaven to a 2 year old). We were given a flower to plant in honor of Gpa and we see it everyday as we drive out of the driveway and Judah mentions that it's his flower for Gpa. I was getting stuff together to get out of the house this morning when Judah comes to me with a paper in his hand saying, "Mommy, it's Gpa, it's Gpa!" and he shows me a christmas newsletter with Gpa's picture he found in our office at home. We'll have to keep that newsletter tradition alive still to show of the great-grandkids as they continue to grow.
It's the little things in life, like trying to explain heaven to a 2 year old that increases your faith. It makes you think, "Do I really believe all this stuff about heaven"...and the awe and amazement that I see from him, the purity and innocence and of course the Bible- make it oh so real. With Easter being right around the corner, we've been reading Bible books about Jesus rising from the dead and going to heaven. With excitement - Judah says, "Jesus is going to see Gpa"...and we'll say...yep, Jesus and Gpa get to hang out all the time, and they are looking out for us. Don't be naughty, cause Gpa can see you...=)
We get to pray together every night before bed, and I always ask Judah who he wants to pray for. We go through the typical list of family members, friends, and people we saw that day and we get to talk to Jesus. The night after the memorial service, the first person Judah asked to pray for was GG (Great-grandma). This was a first. I asked him why he wanted to pray for her, and he said, "So she isn't sad anymore." We must have told him she might be sad, because he hasn't seen her cry or anything like that. But his sensitive little heart wanted to cover her in prayers. So, so sweet. Again, these moments make my heart smile.
There is so much more I could write in honor of my Grandpa. I think we are still a little in shock. It's going to be more real around the holidays and birthdays when we get together and our grandpa isn't there to make us laugh and tell us how proud he is. We know he still is, and we are so grateful for his life and for all those that he touched.
Here is a preview of a rare moment that I got to catch on video by accident. Moments like these either make me tear up a little or puts a huge smile on my face because the impact Gpa had was so huge in my life and even in my 2-year old's. It's not the greatest video because I was trying to catch Ireland playing with her bottle holder and she wasn't cooperating-but I thought I'd share it so you could see his authentic excitement: