When people are asked about their greatest fear, a myriad of answers emerge. Some are common fears, i.e. falling, the dark, spiders, enclosed spaces, heights. My single biggest fear is one that has increased in certain years – losing someone I love. As I’ve grown older and my parents have aged and several of my peers have lost their parents in recent years, it’s been on my mind.
When I became a parent, one thing I really wanted for my children was for them to know their grandparents. As a child I recall friends going on vacations with their grandparents or getting spoiled with clothes or toys or just spending time with their grandparents after school or on weekends.
I was envious. It was something I never had. One grandparent died before I was born. Two passed away when I was a toddler. The only one I really remember at all was my paternal grandmother. And I can’t really say that I remember her. She spent her final years in a nursing home in Minnesota and I hadn’t seen her for a year or two when she died when I was around 9 years old. What I do remember is that she was diabetic and I’d save up my change to go the store and buy a bag of sugar free candy to mail her.
My wish for my own kids to know their grandparents came true. They all live close and have been around for many birthdays and holidays. They’ve spent time with my kids. They’ve baked with them. Done crafts together. Read books together. Had sleepovers. Picked them up from school. Taken them to McDonald’s. Fed them way too many sweets. We’ve gone on some trips and outings with them. They have been part of my children’s lives and I’m so grateful for that. Of the four grandparents, two are in good health, two aren’t in such good health. And each year as they get a little older, the reality becomes more apparent that there is going to come a day when they aren’t here anymore and it really scares me. I’m scared to lose them and I’m terrified for my kids to lose them.
I’m really so squeamish about death anyway. They say God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. He must know what a wimp I am because I’ve not had much loss in my life of those who are closest to me. I have lost beloved aunts and uncles and some cousins and family friends over the years, some who had lived a full life and some who were a little younger and unexpected. The most devastating loss was that of my brother-in-law almost 18 years ago. He died of cancer at age 42.
Although I know there’s going to be unbearable loss to come, I can’t let it overshadow the present. I have a great appreciation for them each time I see them. Each smile and laugh and hug is cherished more as time goes on and with each embrace my heart misses them already.