I’ll never forget the day my grandfather died. But even more vividly, I remember my grandmother’s face the first time I saw her after he was gone.
As I’m writing this, it was eight years ago to the day. I woke up; got dressed to go for a run. My dad stopped me on the way out and told me grandpa was gone. I went running anyway, but half a mile in, I turned back. It all sank in. I physically couldn’t push myself forward anymore. And he wasn’t even my husband, or my dad.
I thought I was okay when I walked into my grandmother’s kitchen the morning of the wake. I was going to keep it together, I was going to be strong. Then she pulled me into a hug and broke me all over again with a sentence I’ll never forget.
“It’s just his body we’re seeing today,” she whispered in my ear. “We know where he really is.” In Heaven, she meant. Here she was, having just lost the man she’d loved, who she’d known for over 70 years, telling me it was going to be okay.
I kept coming back to these memories as I read through The Missing Scott Chronicles. A lot of it deals with Janie’s faith after losing her husband. I’ve never lost someone I’ve loved like that, but for the first time, I understood how it must have felt. I knew my grandmother had been broken, I know she still misses the love of her life every day. But she keeps going because of her faith that she’ll see him again.
I hunger for that strength. To be without your person but fight through the days anyway. I can’t imagine waking up one day and my husband no longer being there. Janie’s prose is heartbreaking because it’s filled with so much pain, but also so much longing. And yet, it’s the reminder all of us need that grief will always hurt, if it didn’t matter it wouldn’t hurt so much. This is how we grow, this is how we become ourselves. By breaking, and learning to put ourselves back together again.
You can miss someone and still go on without them, you don’t have to top missing them — chances are you won’t. Grief isn’t something you shed, it’s something you carry with you. Sometimes it weighs you down, but it will only make you stronger. Not because you asked for it, but because the universe said it was someone else’s time to go, and they just happened to be yours.
Janie’s chronicles of grief and acceptance brought tears to my eyes. But they also reminded me to never take a single moment for granted, not of my own life or the life I share with my person. Time is cruel and unpredictable. But love? It lasts forever. It conquers all. It is the thing that will remain, even after we’re all long gone.
The Missing Scott Chronicles by Janie Murray Gordon is available now wherever books are sold.
Meg Dowell is the creator of Brain Rush, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words, and Not a Book Hoarder, celebrating books of all kinds. She is an editor, writer, book reviewer, podcaster, and photographer. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about nonsense and Star Wars.