I’ve never seen a dead person before tonight. When I walked
toward room 408 I was thinking how painful it’d be to see Dad, Uncle Donnie and
Aunt Laurie possibly crying because their dad had died less than hour before. I
wasn’t thinking about how it would hit me. There was Granddad…or Granddad’s
body kind of looking like he was asleep but his mouth was open and his skin was
yellow. I stared a moment as the realization hit me: his eyes weren’t going to
come open, his chest would not rise, he would not move, not even a little bit.
He was frozen like a mannequin. What really rocked me was the incredible sense
that he was gone. Granddad was not there. My dad had said this about Smokey,
our family dog, when he died. I can’t explain it, it’s just this sense that is
entirely different than looking at a sleeping body.
I looked at his bushy eyebrows and remembered last Thursday as Wes and I stood
by his bedside trying to convince him to eat. “If you eat, you’ll regain
strength and then you can go to Florida and go fishing with Donnie,” I
told him. He said with his toothless gums “Yet, that’s what I gotta
do,” and leaned forward and finally took a sip of his shake. When Wes or I
said something funny he lifted his bushy eyebrows and his eyes smiled. This was
something I noticed him doing these past 2 years when he moved in with mom
& dad right after my step Grandma died. It seemed uncharacteristic of the
harsh Master Sargent he had been. Then again the weak man in the hospital bed
was nothing he was in Vietnam. Wes and I took his hands and prayed for him.
That was the last time I would see him alive and awake.
Saturday Wes and I went into to the Critical Care unit where he was back on the
breather as well as a feeding tube and million other wires, electrodes, IVs,
monitors, etc. Wes was asking the nurse about his personal belongings and made
mention of Granddad’s Vietnam Veteran hat. This got us talking about the man he
once was. Roland Andersson had come to the United States at 17 not knowing a
word of English. After almost being killed by being overworked on a farm he joined
the US Army. He had so many stories but he never talked about these things with
his family. He just barely began to open up to my mom these last two years and
told her stories that even my dad had never heard. Stuff like the fact that he
knew the real men that were being
portrayed as the main characters in We Were Soldiers.
One night Wes, Rebecca and I had dinner with him at
Applebees and we tried to get him to tell us stories while I recorded them on
my phone. Now he’s gone and so are the stories.
When It Rains, It Pours
It’s so weird how this happened the very same week that
mom’s test results cam back regarding the stomach problems she’s been having.
Mom called me up Tuesday night and said “I have some sad news, it’s
cancer,”. It’s one of those moments
when everything you were doing or thinking comes to a screeching halt. No, no,
no I thought. God, why? Hasn’t she had enough? Growing up and living life with
one arm wasn’t enough? Pancreatic cancer in 1984 wasn’t enough? More cancer in
88? Breast cancer in 1999? Hasn’t she dealt with enough? My mom is the
sweetest, most loving person on Earth, what has she done to deserve this? After
I said goodbye, I went for a long long walk. I prayed, I sorted things out. Wes
is out of a job right now in this crappy economy. God, what is going on? I
honestly didn’t think 2009 could be worse than 2008 was for me. I really wish
if I were going to break my neck, it wouldn’t be while all this is going on. My
family is drained. We are out of gas.
Last night at Bible Study I remembered something I said
several months ago. Something along the lines of “I will always trust in God,
no matter how horrible things get. Granted, I’m saying that and I’ve never had
anything too terrible happen…” And then, as if my words caused it, I broke my
neck like a month later. And then all this happened. I believe this is
spiritual warfare and if I were to lose an ounce of faith because of my
circumstances, then the enemy would be winning. I challenge you, that if you
ever finding yourself losing faith because of bad things happening to you or
loved ones, then you have put your faith in the wrong thing. Consider this:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth
comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18) Place your
faith, your TRUST in God. That no matter how confusing this situation is, His
plan is still being done. We might not ever understand what these situations
are about, but I trust Him.