I've spent the last five days in the Kansas City area. My wife's grandfather died. While it was not unexpected, everyone thought he had a little more time left. A lot of people in the family did not get the chance to say a proper goodbye while he was still living.
I am reminded of my own horror I felt three years ago when my father was alive one moment, and dead the next. I was fortunate to have spent most of the evening before with him, not knowing what was to occur half a day later. And while I am thankful for that, I also know that if I had been unable to see him for an extended period before he had died, it would have been all right.
When you have a strong relationship with someone, quantity of time spent becomes over rated. All that really matters is quality.
And so it goes...this is the first time that I have spent an extended period of time with members of my wife's family because of a loss. I have found it to be just like the time I spent with my family following the loss of my father; we found ourselves enjoying each other's company, able to laugh and have fun, in tribute to the person no longer with us. We may feel like crying on the inside, but there comes a point where you realize that life is all about the living.
People die. Memories of them do not. In what I can only describe as an odd feeling, I consider myself to be closer to my father today than I ever have, even though I can't have a conversation with him over breakfast. I can't seek his advice. Anything I say to him gets left hanging in the air like a broken spider web. But the bond is still there, still strong. It is something I can't explain.
And I saw many examples of that this week. Call it strength, fortitude, character; it amazes me how people rise to the challenge of their lives at times, when they could just as easily disappear into a fog of depression and uncertainness.
Because of that, I feel very close to a man I met less than two years ago and saw only three times. I feel like he was around a lot more than that. It's because I am lucky to be a member of another family that appreciates whatever it is that we have here, and has been kind enough to involve me in the stories and details of a time when I never knew any of them existed.