love you gramps

i feel like these days i'm clinging so tightly and desperately to hope. faith, reason, and believing in things i cannot possibly positively know or understand until i die frustrates me endlessly. i'm doing my damndest to cling to the hope that jesus is god & this faith is correct regardless of the doubt that occasionally swell inside. the hope that heaven exists, and that you're already there. believing that you're there, having put your faith in jesus 4 years ago & without polio and able to run like you would tell me about doing when you were little. that you're with great aunt beth, baldy, and your mom and grandma who you so missed.

i miss you so much grandpa. i feel such a profound sense of loss & loneliness in your absence. the future was always uncertain but there were a few prayers i always prayed. first, that you'd be there when i adopted my kiddo(s). second, that if finding my person & getting married was going to happen for me that you'd at least meet and get to know my person. finally, i prayed i could be with you when you passed on. in the most uncertain, exciting, and frightening transmigration i felt being there for you in that period was the very least i could do after everything you did for me. selfishly too, i wanted to have every last moment possible with you.

you had a bit of a healthy scare over the weekend before new years but i really thought you'd be ok. it had happened before. i had just seen you, you were doing so well, having gained weight and being more mentally sharp than in prior months. i was astounded and so hopeful that all my prayers above were a possibility again.

on monday january 1 i worked from a coffee shop and then was ubering to phillips arena to shoot a conference my church was hosting. mom called while i was in the uber. she explained the changes in your health and that it looked like you didn't have long but no one knew if that meant days or weeks. it's something we'd been trying to prepare for since last august but i'm not sure i could understand. i grasped the facts but couldn't let myself internalize them or i felt like the whole of my insides would crumble. i got to phillips and a few hours later was able to FaceTime you. You were in bed at the hospital, wearing your Wisconsin baseball cap. It was hard for you to speak but you wanted to know what i was up to. what i was doing felt so unimportant i just wanted to leave and immediately fly there. i told you about the conference what i was excited or nervous about, my plans after that. i told you when i was done i would be coming up there. out of habit i said "i'll see you soon". before you always would say "alright well come on up i'll be waiting for you" or some variation. this time you smiled as best as you could and just said something like "well that's fine" or "alright". i knew then you were done hanging on. we exchanged i love yous. it felt like it took everything i had inside to go take photos of students outside. it was sunny out & the sky was so clear which felt promising and exciting and not at all how i was feeling though the cold was cutting which was apropos. i shot the opening session. every hour i'd ask for an update on your health. "still the same" mom would say.

i hardly slept that night. tuesday morning. still the same. shooting session 2 & 3. getting the call that your medicines were working against each other so they were no longer being administered. you were instead being given morphine to be comfortable & were expected to pass within 24 hours. i asked if i talk to you again, you were unresponsive though. mom told me she'd tell you i loved you often while she sat with you. i hope she did. i felt so heartless continuing to work while you were dying but mom and grandma reminded me that's what you'd want me to. no work will ever be worth not being there with you but i tried my damndest. i think you'd like the photos i took, the conference was beautiful and i think the images adequately captured that. 

tuesday night i got back to my hotel and was laying on my bed resting (like john lennon in that photo annie took of him and yoko you always thought was super meh) before getting the motivation to shower. mom called. i almost didn't answer. i told her health updates often via text, death notification by phone. i finally answered and mom was so upbeat. she asked about the day and my photos. eventually she said "well my nicole-y" & her voice cracked at the end. i don't know how long i sobbed. i wanted any person to materialize so i wasn't alone and could have someone to hug.

wednesday morning i was supposed to shoot the program. i showed up and tried to hide the tears while i was shooting the band and arena singing god is so good. i know for sure he is good gramps but i was having a really hard time believing it while i was singing it. they got to the line "i am healed i am whole i am saved in jesus name". you are gramps. i am so happy for you but i wasn't feeling healed or whole so much as like a porcelain vase dropped, shattered, just lying there. i guess i was all twisty because death was so good for you! selfishly it was the very very worst thing imagineable. i love our memories i'm just so sad we can't make more. 

i made it through the day and went to the airport. i had a trip to dc already planned with a friend. no point to cancel. i thankfully had a night flight and was wearing a baseball cap gramps bc i quietly cried the entire flight. i think the guy behind me heard as he looked sympathetically at me the entire time i was at baggage claim. dc was fun but the cloud of the coming week was looming over it. it didn't help you'd lived there and i kept thinking of stories you told. the photos from the washington post, your office in alexandria, the places you always told me to visit. all the photos. i got in an uber after getting dinner one night and the drivers car smelled like you. i don't know whether it was soap or aftershave or what but i immediately felt like i was in your dually truck in albuquerque going to supper rock or the owl cafe or the bosque del apache. i thought about something else before more tears started welling up.

the next few days were hard but there were fewer tears. i was surprised but it made things easier. i thought i was handling it. monday night at my hotel in chicago i woke myself up crying in my sleep. that made more sense.