No right way to move forward

papiLife is hard. It’s beautiful, rewarding and fun, but underneath it all, it is also hard. It’s hard because it isn’t perfect. Even when you find a perfect moment in the chaos, time refuses to stand still and that moment quickly becomes a memory. You forge relationships and love the family you are born into and the one you choose only to eventually face the reality that you will lose them. You find yourself staring into a future that is void of someone who was an integral part of your past wondering how on earth your life continues on. And yet, you know it will. Deep down you know that loss is inevitable and somehow you will move forward…but maybe not yet.

Grief is hard. You grieve for the loss you feel of the life you had and the future you had envisioned. Oftentimes there’s a bit of regret mixed in. What moments did you miss? What more could you have done? What more could you have said? Somehow you know you have to get to a point of acceptance, but right here in this moment that seems to be an impossible standard to reach.

Loss is hard. There’s an emptiness that ironically fills you up. You go to where the person once was and still picture them as being there. You convince yourself they are just around the corner. You can almost hear their laugh. Your brain tells you they aren’t there, but you can literally feel their presence.

Three weeks ago my Papi passed away. This past weekend we had a life celebration service at my Nana and Papi’s farm. I grew up on this farm. I say I’ve lived in North Carolina forever, but until I was 8 years old, I lived in Saint Louis during the week and spent my weekends escaping to my grandparents’ farm. There was a treehouse, a barn, lawnmowers, a cabin and a lake (sort of), but above all there was a loving Nana and Papi always anxiously waiting to spoil rotten any grandkids who showed up at their door.

Almost all the grandkids have grown up, and most of us live far away from the farm now, but somehow we all become those wild crazy kids everytime we go back to that farm, and having the service there represented the homecoming we all needed. All the pieces of this huge family tree converged on this one plot of breathtakingly beautiful land. For some, it was the first visit, but for many, we were just coming home. Not to the home we grew up in, but rather the home of love, laughter and family that our Nana and Papi built- the home always full of hugs and good food.

To say that my Papi was an integral part of shaping me into who I am today would be a vast understatement. Anyone who knows me knows about my Papi. They see his face in my pictures, they see his teachings in my photography, and they see his wisdom in my life. I have a long way to go in the process of grief and loss, but I also, hopefully, have a long way to go in the process of life. There is no right way to move forward, it’s just something we all have to do. I will miss him every day, but there’s a peace in knowing that I will also remember him every day. And through that remembrance, myself and everyone else who knew and loved him, will keep him with us, and that is also a comfort.


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