The patriarch of our family started a legacy that spreads beyond generations and has branched out all the way to people like me. A girl who came from a very broken and disconnected family... a girl who now has a place to call home... all because of the love of the two people you see in the picture above.
Today, that patriarch is no longer with us. He passed away this morning and our whole family is still in a somewhat state of shock. I have never had a very close family member pass away. I have seen death time and time again... and yet I have never really experienced it. That hole that is created... the new space in your life where something important is now nothing but an empty void.
When we went to the hospital and saw him... even I was unsure of what to expect. I see death all the time and this was no different... except that it was. You go through the motions... the details of the events are familiar to me but the aftermath was not. As I watched the emotions and reactions from everyone around me I could sense that mode of... 'this is life' settled in me. I know this... its familiar.
It wasn't until we started walking out of the hospital that it hit me. This is unchartered territory... where do we go from here? Life will no longer be the same for us... especially for grandma. I remember the first time I had a patient die in the ICU... the patient's wife stood there after saying goodbye to the man she had shared most of her life with.... she stood outside his room and looked at my preceptor and said, "Now what do I do?"
"How do I just go home without him?"
It was this moment of realization. She would not be going home with him... but she wouldn't be coming back here to see him either. She had to move on... but how? How do you just walk away from the love of your life for the last time? How do you leave the hospital with all of his belongings but without him?
This is what settled in my soul as we drove home from the hospital. That gnawing feeling of the numbness wearing off.
Grandpa, I hope you know how much you are loved... I hope you know how special you were to us... and to me. I am so grateful that I had the honor of knowing such an amazing man who created such an incredible family. I will always remember that moment, right after Chris and I said our vows to each other. You reached out to me first and said, "I have to be the first one to congratulate the new Mrs. Heggem!" I think my face said it all... I was officially now a Heggem!
Thank you for that... thank you for being you.
I know that I can take comfort in the fact that you are in peace, in heaven, celebrating with the God you served so faithfully. But for the record.... we miss you dearly, Grandpa and today we grieve the loss of our beloved patriarch.
Rest in Peace.