The Journey Of Life

September 23, 2016

“You wont be mad at me if I leave you, will you?” Some of my Grandmother’s last words to my family before they tucked her in for her last night with us. She left that night and will be missed greatly. My Grandma was the “glue” that held our family so tight together, with so much love and grace. Even in her last words she showed her caring heart and how she always made sure everyone else was okay in the most selfless way. In the last letter my Grandma wrote to me here in prison she talked about looking forward to seeing me soon. Together with her, my Grandfather, Anna my Fiance, and I. How she was counting down the months till my return home. Talking about her plans to put a stair lift in her place to make it easier for her and Grandpa to get up and down the floors. Looking forward to things in the future. Its been a challenging time, accepting this loss while also being unable to be there with the family. Having my furlough request denied due to that it must be “immediate” family was difficult to accept- the attempt to be okay with having absolutely no control over what I can and can not do.

It goes against everything I believe in to not be there during this time. Knowing how hard it has to be for my Grandfather, my Father, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, for everyone, and be unable to be there magnifies the emotional battle of being in prison, away from all those who matter most. It puts everything of true value even further into perspective. Looking back at all the wonderful memories created with my Grandma and the family, all together. Remembering the day just a few months ago when I called Anna after she took Grandma out for lunch. Anna telling me shortly after how this woman, my Grandma, is the definition of a strong, smart, stylish, loving, funny, huge hearted beautiful woman. All so very true.

This loss coming just weeks after the passing of my good friend Matt Popko. What a great man he was. Losing his battle with cancer he was a cherished friend. So supportive and giving. What made him the happiest was to be with his wife and son. It was just not too long ago he had finished remodeling his new home- how happy he was to be able to provide for his family. Another time I wouldn’t have missed for anything. To have been there to grieve and support his family. I wish condolences to all of Matt’s family and may his spirit live on with my other incredible friend JD Saxon who passed two years ago while fighting leukemia. JD was an amazing soul- in my corner the entire time leading up to my trial helping me every way he could. They are both very missed.

September 29th, 2016. 10am

Entering the small chapel, I fill its emptiness with a time of remembrance. I pull out a single match and strike it across the box sparking a flame, taking it to the wick of the tea candle and end of the incense stick. Grateful that the chapel was able to provide these religious items and for Anna’s idea to hold a remembrance time in accordance with our family’s time back home. Laying out photos I pull up a kneeler to face the table. Breathing in the incense, I remain kneeled in silence. The flicker of the candle reflects off the last photo taken of my Grandma and I. Remembering a “going away” party Anna and I had at our place prior to my surrender. Another photo of Anna out to lunch with Grandma just a few months back where they got lost in conversation for hours. Filling my lungs, this specific incense brings back memories of times with my family where my Grandma was present. Recalling other services where we had mourned together in times of other members of our family moving on to the next part of their journey.

I got up and walked over to a corner bookshelf with various religious texts. I scan across; The New Testimate, Holy Bible, Quran, Santa Biblia, then I find it. A binded Catholic hymnal. Not personally of the Catholic faith but in honor of my Grandmother I bring it over to the table, not sure what I will find. I flip through and see the words “Funeral Liturgy.” Almost as though I was guided there. I read aloud the message. Then continue and read the remainder of the page. “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want” followed by the “Celtic Song of Farewell,” and the “Eternal rest in Peace Prayer.” Knowing that at that exact time my family was also doing the same back home, honoring and celebrating her life. It gave me some comfort and sense of connectedness. Knowing there’s no reversal to the rivers of pain flowing like a flood over everyone that she left. I focus on thoughts of comfort and peace for Grandma and for all of us who she made such an impact in our lives. Still in sadness and disbelief I continue in silence until the incense burns out and I say goodbye.

Its such a necessary need and desire that most of us have, for a higher power, or for that something greater. To many we have an inner, inborn desire for many things in life- as if we are made this way purposely. For a purpose every day we wake and for a purpose going forward with every step we take day after day. We have a Truth we believe in and that Truth we hold on to, to comfort us- even make us whole. And what a beautiful thing that is.

In times of loss we may have “if only’s” arise. If only I had one more conversation. If only I said I love you one more time. If I could only have spent that day or that evening together. If I could only give them one more kiss or one more hug. If I only stayed home rather than working late or had that quiet dinner talking away from distractions like the phone or TV. Many “if onlys” may come to mind. At first I had some of my own, but I am moving forward focusing on all the times I was blessed with. Of all I did have the opportunity to have. With my great friends JD and Matt. And with my beloved Grandmother. Memories in time that can never be taken away. I inspire to live life with a strong focus on not having a single “if only.” Being mindful and living in the moment. Knowing that this is such a beautiful life, and such a life which requires of us to grab hold of opportunity. Opportunity to show our appreciation and our love and our gratitude, every chance we get. To not let time slip on by without living it out to the max possible level. Lost time never returns.

Its in my Truth that we were before, we are now, and we will be. We will continue on. That is my Truth as it may be different for everyone and that is okay. “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”-Abraham Lincoln. My Grandma lived every day so full of life. I love you Grandma and you will be forever missed and always remembered by many.

“No ones death comes to pass without making some impression, and those close to the deceased inherit part of the liberated soul and become richer in their humanness.” Hermann Broch

-JV

The Journey Of Life
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