Like storm clouds rolling in the loss of a loved one whether through death or simply someone walking away, leaves us feeling like there is a hole in our heart. It is so easy to allow the dark clouds to take control, but once that happens, fighting your way out of the darkness begins to feels like an impossible journey.
The first time I felt the toil of death I was six years old. The sense of sadness I felt when my Mother told me my Great-Grandfather died is something I remember to this day. I knew I was never going to see Big Papa ever again. I’ll never forget when I would run by him on the porch and he would grab me with his cane pulling me in for a big hug. Little did I realize at the time with each hug he was planting tiny seeds of joy in my heart. It’s been over fifty years and still thoughts of him fills me with love.
The second hole in my heart came when I was eighteen, my cousin, who was also eighteen, died. I can still hear my screams as I sunk to the floor sobbing my heart out. Allen and I were part of the infamous six, the six oldest cousins, whose adventures are still talked about by the younger cousins today. One of my fondest memories was when he was visiting for a week. Now Allen was a city boy, and we were the country cousins. One night my youngest brother and I had gone to the animal auction, with my fiancée. We came home with a calf, a pig and some rabbits, which by the way, we put at Allen’s feet in the living room, you should have seen the look on his face. When my fiancée started back out the door Allen jumped up dodging animals he ran to the door half laughing half afraid of the answer, “what’s next a horse?” “No,” we said, “eggs.” We laughed so hard tears ran down our faces.
Through the years there have been many holes left in my heart some by death but some just from goodbyes. When my first husband left our son and I, it was devastating, so much so that for the next four years I was in a very dark place. I was so angry with God that I wanted nothing to do with Him. My saving grace was my son Ben who, from the moment of his birth, has bought joy to my life. I would do it all again just to have my son.
My dear Aunt Kitty, oh how I loved her. She would come to visit, and it didn’t matter how many kids were spending the night she always let us crawl in bed with her and cuddle. Even with more than ten kids in the bed she never complained. She had plenty of love to go around. And boy could she tell a story. It didn’t matter how many times she told the same story each time was just as funny as the first time. I miss her dearly.
Fifteen years ago, my husband kissed me goodbye, said I love you, went to work like he did everyday only this time he didn’t came back. A massive heart attack claimed him in an instant. His death sent me wheeling back into a dark place. Once again, God had blessed with me my saving graces, Sarah and Luke, my shining stars, oh how blessed I am. When I think of him, I just look at my two wonderful children and thank him for the love he gave me. When I married Jerry, Ben was ten, he took Ben as his own, giving him the love of a father, and never treated him any different than he did his own flesh and blood. Family was so important to him. He honestly thought we were the Cleavers, living the perfect life. The hole his death left in my heart felt like a crater.
My dear beloved Dad, I miss him so much. In all my life I have never met a more compassionate loving man as my Dad. When he said he loved you he meant it for life, no matter what you did to him he loved you unconditionally. After almost thirty years of marriage, my parents divorced. My mother remarried, my Dad never did, he loved her to his last breath. When my stepfather got sick, my father took him and my mother to all their doctor’s appointments. He would put my stepfather in a wheelchair and wheel him all over the VA hospital, because it was too much for my mother. He was the man who would give you the shirt off his back or his last piece of bread; he figured you needed it more than he did. No matter what was going on he was always there for us, I would call him crying about something and his words of wisdom were “Everything will be OK.” It always was. He always carried mint lifesavers with him, because he said they cured anything that ailed you. If I love half the way my Dad did, then those in my life are truly blessed. He never thought material things were important, family and friends were his treasures. His legacy of love is beyond priceless.
I was blessed to have two wonderful stepfathers, Chris and Dewey. My mother found not one but two men who had no children of their own, but willingly and lovingly accepted my mother’s family with open arms. Now that is no small feat; my parents had five children, thirteen grandchildren and twelve great-grandkids. To know both men were to love them, I miss them both.
May 2, death took my cousin Eddie, he was one of the infamous six. Eddie always had a smile on his face even in the face of cancer. Even though I rarely saw him once we grew up, when I did see him the bond we shared was still there. I will miss him dearly. But the love I feel for him will never die and when we get to heaven he will be waiting with that same happy smile.
On May 21, my mother, sat down on the sofa and went to sleep, never to wake again. What can you say about a mothers love, that you don’t already know? For me it was gingerbread on cold winter days, hugs, kisses, and her unfailing love. Every Christmas we would all bake cookies, those wonderful cut out cookies. Boy did she have patience. As teenagers she always allowed us to have parties, she always made sure there were snacks and drinks, moved the record player into the dining room, moved the furniture around so we had plenty of room to dance. But the thing she did that will always stand out to me was, she would make my sister and I a new pair of bell bottom pants for the party; we never had to wear the same outfit twice. Let me tell you she made us some wild looking pants. We were thrilled. As a grandmother, she never said no to babysitting, it didn’t matter if she was already babysitting for someone else she would say bring them over. Every Christmas she continued the cookie tradition with all thirteen grandkids they would go to her house for a night of baking cut out cookies. I made the mistake of one year offering to help her. A migraine later, I told her she was crazy, she laughed and said it was fun. I never made the mistake of offering to help again; instead I dropped my kids off and snuck out the door.
The last few weeks have been rough, I feel like the black clouds of doom have covered me and I can’t get out. I find myself apologizing over and over again for being negative. The trouble with being negative is once you let it in, it takes over. I know that the only way to rid yourself of negative thoughts is with positive thoughts, but for two weeks I felt like I was on the losing end of this battle. Losing my mother has reopened the loss of my dad, a hole I have avoided for years. Thinking of him, I can hear his voice saying “Everything is going to be ok.” I want to scream “no it’s not.” But I knew my Dad would just say “Yes it will.” Slowly as I started thinking of my parents, the holes in my heart started to fill with love. I could hear my Dad saying “love you girl.”
Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends have all touched my life and left, leaving holes in my heart. They are gone, but their love is not. As I think of Big Papa
I realize the hole in my heart does not hurt; instead the love he gave me for that brief time fills the hole with so much love, like a rose blooming in spring. If I can still feel the love of my Great-grandfather fifty four years later, how much more will I feel the love of my parents who year after year poured out their love to me. Those holes they left in my heart are not empty; they are filled with loving memories. It’s a wonderful legacy to leave someone a heart filled with love. How awesome is it that throughout their lives they were leaving deposits of love to be cashed in whenever the hole starts to appear. Each hole is no longer dark, growing inside is a beautiful rose planted by them to grown and replace the hole in my heart.
As I go though this life, the best I can hope to do is plant tiny seeds of love along the way. And when I am gone, those seed will blossom into a beautiful rose in your heart dimming the ache you feel. So today, tomorrow and every day after I will do my best to fill your life with tiny seeds of love. To all my family, friends and everyone reading this, I give you this rose to fill a hole in your heart. You are loved.