“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”Psalm 46:10I didn’t know the image above would be the last thing I’d post to my social media profiles in July 2014. I didn’t understand the significance its message would have in the months to come.
But I needed a break. And I needed to make some changes.
I was two courses shy of completing my graduate studies, and I wanted to take some time to figure out what came next.
I had no idea.
“You can do anything, but not everything.”David Allen
A few months earlier, I had launched a music website that lasted less than three months. I never advanced further than the planning stages for a men’s online magazine. I had begun writing two very different books and finished neither of them. I even started work on a television pilot.
Writers write, and I thought I was doing what I needed to be doing. It turns out that I was
doing trying to do too much!
When one of the nation’s largest PR firms reached out to me about representation, it only got worse.
I lacked focus. I felt entitled. I was concentrating on the wrong things. I had lost my way. I had forgotten my sense of purpose.
Throughout the years, I’ve taken countless hiatuses. But this one was much different than the others.
I needed time to reset.
That image was quite fitting, considering everything I’ve endured in that time frame. I’ve experienced life’s ups and downs—marriage, divorce, birth, death.
The latter two obviously weren’t mine. Neither were the former two. But they all had a dramatic impact on me.
My maternal grandfather, SJ, died October 9, 2015.
A hospice nurse at the nursing home where he spent his last years called my mom to inform her that it wouldn’t be long. I knew she would be in no shape to make the 60-mile trip to her hometown by herself, so I drove her.
You may try to prepare for a moment such as this, but there is nothing that can actually prepare you.
When her phone rang as we entered the town, I knew. She spoke calmly and hung up the phone before confirming my hunch. I immediately burst into tears and started hyperventilating. Between ragged breaths, I kept repeating, “I tried to get us there.” The more I thought about how close we were, the more upset I became. My mom calmed me, and we drove for less than five minutes before we reached our destination.
I thought I would need to be there for her, but she held it together much better than I did. Looking back, I did need to be there for her. My panic attack was something she needed at that moment. Her role of grieving daughter lessened a bit as she enhanced the caring mother one.
We both knew we needed to be there for my grandmother, who had been at my grandfather’s side when he died.
The nursing home staff offered their condolences when we arrived. I immediately made my way to my grandparents. Grandma was still in Grandpa’s room, and she told us how he had been crying out for his mother before he died. My mom and I later remarked to each other that we weren’t sure we would have been able to handle that.
Aside from the panic attack, I didn’t allow myself to grieve because there was so much work to do.
There were times that I cried, of course. But once I started, it wasn’t long before I’d stop and return to the task at hand. The funeral was a different story, but I still didn’t feel like I had grieved.
It wasn’t until four weeks later that it hit me. I wrote about it in my journal:
“It’s been nearly a month since Grandpa died. I had remarked, ‘It hasn’t really hit me yet.’ Well, it did this morning before I even got out of bed.
I was thinking about his caring, kindhearted nature, and bam!
Perhaps it wasn’t until now because I knew it would be coming, and I tried prolonging it as long as I could by keeping myself busy so I didn’t have a chance to think about it. Or it could have been because I have been busy dealing with everything for everybody. Or who knows?
The fact remains that someone I love and who played such an integral role in me becoming the man I am today is gone. And that hurts.”
My paternal grandfather, Troy, died June 29, 2016.
Grandpa Troy had a stroke in March. He spent a few weeks in a rehabilitation facility afterward. When he completed rehab, he moved to a nursing home so professionals could take care of him. My grandmother decided to bring him home after a short time and hired a nurse to look after him there.
The nurse called my dad to inform him that it wouldn’t be long. I took the time to reflect on what was about to happen. I prayed to God, asking for strength to help me be there for my dad. My mom, dad, and I stayed at my grandparents’ house along with my aunts and uncle. They all took turns sitting beside and talking to Grandpa Troy.
I couldn’t bring myself to do that.
What do you say to someone who is about to die?
Grandpa Troy died two days later.
I felt numb, having gone through this over eight months prior. But there was work to do.
Grandpa SJ and Grandpa Troy both played a part in helping shape me into the man that I am. I am my parents’ oldest child. I felt obligated to help them. I planned the memorials and wrote the obituaries for their deceased dads. I felt honored and humbled to do so. My sense of responsibility contains so many elements from those two gentlemen.
Both of my grandmothers allowed me to pick the suits their husbands would wear. That sentence seems a bit trivial, but it’s my small contribution to honor two very special men in my life. For that reason, its significance is not forgotten, and I teared up as I typed it.
As I picked the suit in which Grandpa Troy would wear, I found a tie clip tucked away in a pocket. That got to me and gave me an opportunity to grieve. I couldn’t help but laugh a few days later as I thought about how that tiny accessory had affected me.
I thank God for giving me the strength I needed to do everything I needed to do after losing someone I love. I am also grateful for the ability to share my thoughts and feelings in written form.
For as long as I can remember, writing has been cathartic. I used to joke that instead of attending therapy sessions, I write.
A few years ago, I considered giving up writing. This hiatus allowed me to get to know myself. I know who and what I want to be.
I read somewhere recently that if you give God your present situation, he’ll begin a new chapter in your story. That’s exactly what this is for me, and I thank you kindly for joining me.
It’s been a long time, but it feels so good to be back at it!
There’s so much that has happened throughout the world during my absence.
I am compelled to educate, entertain, and inspire others through the written word. It’s a God-given gift and responsibility. I’m so grateful he wouldn’t allow me to toss it aside like I did with singing and playing the piano.
I write this with all humility, giving all glory to God. Did you miss me?
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”Proverbs 3:5-6