my process

My favorite fotos ever!! Grandpa layin the moves on Grandma, to which Grandma proclaims "it was all on the up and up"...hehehe. (click on the photo to enlarge it :)
So I wanna record and share my process as I grieve(d).
(My uncle passed away when I was a youngin, and it was totally traggic...i still miss him. I can't watch the movie A Walk to Remember b/c I cry my face off every time... but I was a kid ...can't remember it all, and was guarded from a lot of those things... and, i just "didn't understand"...)
Now I'm 26. And this was my first personal adult experience with death.
Grandpa was in the hospital for a month... we hoped and prayed that he would recoop and get to return home... but it wasn't so. Grandpa got worse, and though his mind was so strong, his body got weaker and weaker. Once I was all better from that bad 2 week cold I had...I tried to see Grandpa everyday. Walking in the room each day was so nice...seeing him there still, another day of love. Leaving everyday felt like I was saying goodbye each time... especially last week. I would cry all the way to my car... I didn't want him to have to live in the pain he was in, but I just kept wishing there was a miracle that could make him strong again...and be all back to his normal self, sitting in the basement stripping wire, watching Seinfeld in bed with a cup of lukewarm tea, telling jokes and stories, making Grandma know daily life.
Tuesday, Grandpa and me had an 'eye contact conversation"(no talk, just 'gettin each other')... I kneeled beside him...we just held hands, I hardly said a thing...he knew what I was saying...and when I gave him a kiss, he said "I love YOU" (his voice had been gone for a week; this was so precious.) This was my goodbye. I thought it was my last. Wednesday...I got a bonus goodbye. And another special kiss :) Every moment so cherished!
Thursday morning, I woke up and just couldn't get going... I was already an hour and a half late for work. I wasn't sick or anything, I just felt so I had a shower and was wandering around the house in a daze...The phone rang and it was Kody. He asked me if I wanted a ride... I said "for what?"...Leigh-Ann, Grandpa died this morning. I dropped the phone and wailed. Kody said, I'm coming over. I'll be right there.
Kody was over within minutes (Tyson was at work)...we hugged and soaked each others shoulders... and headed for the hospital holding hands. We met up with Mom, Dad, Grandma, Aunt Sharleen, Uncle Gerry, Tanner and Uncle Wayne...hugged, cryed and together, headed to Room 326. I was so scared to see Grandpa without life. We walked into the room... and Gran headed over to her man...and checked his pocket. My Dad gave Kody the biggest dad hug mom and I wept. Lots of things happened in that room. The pocket favorite. I took off Grandpa's watch so that it wouldn't get lost... and held on tight. I'm still wearing it. I feel closer to Grandpa... he always wore this watch, a reminder of him. {Grandma later said Grandpa would have loved for me to have it... so special.} Before we left, we all spent a time with Grandpa alone...a chance to say goodbye. I kissed him so much. My heart felt like it was being sat on by an elephant. I told Grandpa some secrets of the sad that he wouldn't be there to meet them... but grateful and overjoyed with all the memories we shared.
Afterwards, we all went to Grandma's house, where we met up with more of our family. Lots of Grandpa's siblings were there. Amanda, Matt and the Twins...
Amanda, Kody, Tanner and me hung out in Grandma's bedroom for a few hours (lol, Grandma and Grandpa have seperate rooms ;)... we just talked a lot, looked at old photos, tried on some of Grandma's clothes... shared fun old memories. It was good to be with family. So good. But at the same time, I was holding in so many emotions... Everyone kept saying, "he's not in pain anymore", and yes, so true and glorious, and I was so so happy that Grandpa was not in pain anymore...but I just wished he was never in pain, and was still here. His mind was so was just his body.
The next day, I literally stayed in bed all day. I couldn't wrap my mind around the permanence of Grandpa being gone. "He's not here anymore" I kept thinking. Grandma is not followed by "and Grandpa" anymore...Grandma is by herself. nooo!! Picturing all the things he wouldn't be here for. All day, crying so much. Kody and I talked on the phone for a hour... he was my rock. I made my Grandpa mixtape and listened to those 20 songs on repeat for days... friends sent flowers, and I avoided the phone. I just wanted to be alone and not hold back the boiling sadness inside of me. A lot of healing happened that day. Around 10pm, I got out of bed. Hungry and aimlessly confused on what to do with myself. I felt like I would never get over Grandpa not being here anymore. I needed a way to express myself, honour him, and never forget.
AHA! Last summer, while hanging with Grandpa in his shop...I spotted some flattened soup cans. I enjoyed their shape...and asked Grandpa if I could have a few...and a small bundle of wire. He laughed at me...and said yes. Asked what for...and I said, I'll make a scrapbook with them. Then he really laughed...he believed me, but was always fascinated in my curiosity and ability to see beyond the obvious. The cans sat in my to do pile, and when I would visit...he would usually ask me...Did you make something with those flat cans yet? (kinda mocking/teasing me) I'd laugh...and say, nope. not yet, but you'll see. Anyways... i found my way! I sat at the computer late Friday night selecting pictures and memories of Grandpa... and practically printed a whole colored ink cartridge worth of great photos.... I also scanned a lot from Grandma's old photo album she had lent me. Old and New. My memories, and ones I adore...
I've been working on this album everyday since Friday. It has totally been my outlit. It is officially now, my FAVORITE thing I've EVER made! It's totally Grandpa, made for no one else's approval. I love this expression of our memories! I don't know when it will be finished! It has been such a healing thing for me...and I'm not rushing it. I totally recommend doing this if you lose a loved one. It doesn't have to be pretty, it doesn't have to be perfect, just use it as a way to remember, express and grieve. I no longer worry that I'll forget the little things. I've filled this album with all of them...and I know my children will know their Great Grandpa Rusty through this book. It is precious.
As much as I want to work on it steady, I have been forcing myself to get out of the house lots...and be in public and with family. (I tend to seclude myself...but I'm realizing more and more, that if I do that, I only get worse). I came back to work yesterday, and I'm doing okay. Time does help it get better. People said that to me and I just wanted to tell them "where to go"...but they're right. I don't know how it works, but it's happening to me. I am in no way forgeting my Grandpa...just adjusting. Life has changed.
I write this to myself, because next time I go through this... I will be less afraid. And to you, I know I'm not alone...and not many people share this process honestly or fully. Which makes it all the more scary. It's horribly hard, and is not over yet. Never will be. But it get's easier each day. Ashli, I hope this helps you in the next few months. I'll be here for you!
People ask me how I'm doing... I don't know what to say... how do I answer that? Can 'okay' be an answer? Better than I thought I'd be at this stage, but in one word, heartbroken. They say it will get easier.
I'll share my album when I'm ready. It is beautiful. Grandpa fills the pages with joy... :)


  1. i can't wait to see the album...such a special & unique way to preserve such priceless memories. hugs!

  2. Sorry I've been MIA lately. Been thinking about you for sure though. I can't wait to see the album and glad you've found a way to cope. Love ya!

  3. where are you gonna tel them where to go, the mall or superstore, cause i know you wouldn't swear
    oh maybe olive garden

    i look at it sis at life goes on and now we just gotta catch up to it

    suck on halmark thats got trademark copyright and a patent on it

  4. Hi Honey!

    You are so amazing!
    My Hero... Really!

    I read your blog every time you update it and every time you surprise me more with your kindness, courage, hope, funniness (not a word.. but it fit), and amazing ability to let life happen and to preserve it.

    Anything you need.. Anything.. EMAIL ME!

  5. aww hugs L.A..can't even imagine how it is for you. thinking of you..

  6. I don't know what to say because words of condolance seem so futile when you're hurting so badly, but I feel like I should say something - I cried when I read your posts about your grandpa and your familys sadness in losing him. I think he was a very lucky man to have been loved so much. I think you are very strong to share your naked feelings about his passing, and I hope it will help make it less painfull.

  7. I'm so glad you wrote that post. I know it is healing to write. When my friend died over a month ago, I bought a journal and I use it to write to her. It makes me feel closer to her and that makes it a little easier.

    I love your idea about the album for Grandpa. Can't wait to see it. Take care of yourself!

  8. ***hugs la, you´re such a special person and a great friend.
    i also can´t wait to see what kind of precious album you have made.


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