I can’t believe it has been ten years since you passed away. It seems like only yesterday, and yet at the same time, it seems like it has been forever. They (whoever “they” are) say that the grief that comes with the death of a loved one gets better with time. I disagree: it never gets better. It just changes. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. Some days, my heart aches so much from the hurt that I can’t contain my sorrow. Most days, however, my thoughts are little memories, almost fleeting. Little things will trigger them, although I never know what exactly and I am often caught off guard when it happens.
I think of you when I am at the farmer’s market. The peas remind me of all the hours spent shelling peas each summer. You would get so frustrated with me because more peas would end up in my mouth than in the bowl. That’s your own fault, you know. You were the one who taught me how to shell peas and introduced me to the joy of eating them straight from the pod.
I think of you when a seed I plant doesn’t grow. I wish I could call you up and ask you what I am doing wrong. Your flowerbeds were always full of beautiful flowers. Mine are full of obnoxious weeds. It’s pretty obvious I did not inherit your green thumb. But I did inherit your determination because I still try to plant things, even though I know they won’t grow.
I think of you when I eat watermelon, remembering the time Mom swallowed a watermelon seed. You said that she was going to grow a watermelon in her tummy because of it. Then it turned out her stomach did start getting bigger because she was pregnant, but you had me convinced she was growing a watermelon. Imagine my surprise when the watermelon turned out to be a baby sister!
I think of you when I need to accomplish a task of some sort. I hear you saying to me “If you do it right the first time, you only have to do it once.” You taught me to work hard, and do the best job I could possibly do. It was always work first, then play. As much as I hated that philosophy when I was younger, it turns out that it has served me well as an adult. I guess you were right after all.
I think of you when I hear the song How Great Thou Art. That song still brings me to tears, even ten years later. I think of singing it as the closing hymn at your funeral. I think of sitting there with my siblings, arms wrapped around each other and holding hands, with tears streaming down our faces, as we sang the words praising God for His greatness, even during one of the most difficult times of our lives: “Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art!” You taught me that no matter how tough life is, God is always greater.
It’s been ten years. It’s been one hundred and twenty months. It’s been five hundred and twenty weeks. It’s been three thousand six hundred and fifty days. It doesn’t matter how I mark the time; it is still adds up to another moment without you. And that is something I think about every single day.
Shelling peas with my dad. This picture was taken in August 2004, almost exactly one year before he passed away.