He held my hand as we walked and I remember thinking how deeply I loved him. Even as a tiny child I understood the preciousness of this kind of love. A love so deep and so strong it seemed as though it was all I needed to survive. As we strolled down the path, the very same one he had taken so many times as a boy, he gifted me with stories from his younger years, the memories he held safe and close to his heart for almost half a century. He talked about his parents, his love of the ocean, and the day he very reluctantly left the comfort of his mothers embrace to serve his country in World War II.
My grandfather was one of the most important people in my life. He was a strong and constant presence. He was a teacher, a storyteller, a playmate, and a friend. He was generous and kind, loving and humble. Because of my grandfather, I have many wonderful memories and lessons that will forever be cherished within my heart but there is one lesson in particular I will be eternally grateful for. He taught me how to listen. How to really listen to not only the spoken story but to the silent one as well. He always said that sometimes its in the silence where you can learn the most.
My grandfather passed away five days before Christmas. During the few days prior, I found myself unable to say goodbye. My brain had accepted the truth that his time on this earth was coming to an end but my heart resisted the thought. My heart wanted nothing more than to hold on to the man whom had, from the beginning, become one of the most important people in my life. When it became clear that it was time to say goodbye, ready or not, I found myself sitting alone beside my beloved grandfather. I held his hand and in doing so the memories of he and I walking 'our' path flooded my mind. I leaned into him, gently placed my face into his neck and started to cry. I cried over the memory and because of the pain but most of all I cried because it was over. I had to say "so long for now" through the tears, through the pain, through the love.
At his final moment, it was he and I, together still. I thanked him for being in this life and for being such a gift. For showing me what life and love was really about and for allowing me to realize that letting go didn't mean forgetting. I had so many beautiful, wonderful memories because of him, all of which I could relive at any moment. While feeling so blessed and so alone I noticed the silence and remembered his lesson......listen. Listen to the unspoken story because sometimes its in that silence where you learn the most.