Monday, July 14, 2014

The Passing of Sidekick's Grandpa

I've mentioned before that my stepdad was diagnosed with throat cancer about six weeks before Sidekick was born. Less than two weeks before he was born, my stepdad has his voice box removed. For two years, this wonderful man had to either write or type on his iPad when he wanted to "talk".  It changed his life forever and everyone around him had to rally around him and support him through this change. It was sad to never hear his deep, calm, loving voice again.  He fought his cancer harder than I could have ever done.  He switched between radiation and chemo for about 18 months and went through every treatment like a champ. I would have thrown in the towel months prior, but he kept going. 

He took a downward spiral quickly right before the 4th of July weekend.  Last Thursday, he didn't have very long to live, so at the last minute, I packed our stuff, picked up Sidekick from school, and drove the five hours to say goodbye. When we had gotten to the house, Sidekick and I went into his room.  On the drive up, I had explained that Grandpa was sleeping. As soon as Sidekick saw him, he said, "Grandpa sleeping.  Hi, Grandpa."  My stepdad adored Sidekick so much, and I loved seeing my sweet boy so amazing towards this man just lying there, basically unconscious. Did he know we were there?

The house was full of people:  my sister, my mom's best friend and her daughter, my stepdad's son and his wife, and us.  At times, I'd be with my stepdad alone (or with Sidekick) while other times other people would be with him or we'd all be together.  In such a time of sorrow, we still found time to laugh and made sure that he heard us laughing.  There were times that we had to tell him that it was okay for him to "go" and that we were all okay and all together.  Sidekick told him his loved him and would just quietly sit in my arms while we stood around my stepdad.

This was taken when Sidekick was six weeks old, and we drove five hours to meet my stepdad. 
(I found this picture frame on his dresser.) 

At 5:36 the next morning, my stepdad passed away.  As soon as Sidekick woke up, he said, "Grandpa."  I took him to see Grandpa, and at that point, he was the "same" in Sidekick's eyes as he had been the night prior, so we didn't say much to him.  When his body was finally taken away many hours later, Sidekick went to his room at one point and saw the empty hospital bed.  He said, "Grandpa" in a questioning way. I asked the hospice nurse what I am supposed to tell him, and she said to tell him whatever I believe (but NOT to tell him his was sleeping... which I knew that I would have to change my "story" once he did pass away).  So it quickly made me really think... what do I believe in? 

I read the book Heaven is for Real a few months ago.  Heaven seems like such a wonderful place, and I'd like to believe that it is real.  I'm not a religious person, so I can't fall back on that.  So... what did I tell my two year old?  I told him that Grandpa went bye-bye.  I told him that Grandpa is an angel in heaven which is in the sky. I told him that Grandpa will be watching over us and help us be happy and healthy.  The end.  I hope that is true because I find comfort in thinking that what I told my son might actually be true.

Yesterday we were outside on the deck eating lunch, and out of the blue, Sidekick looked up at the beautiful blue sky, pointed, and said, "Hi, Grandpa!" I just looked at him in such disbelief.  Does he truly understand?  While Sidekick will never remember his Grandpa, he has his Grandpa's first name as his middle name, and I will always tell him how much his Grandpa loved him, and how much he supported me as a SMC.  He was an incredible man, and while I hate the phrase, "He is in a better place" and will never use it, I know that he is no longer suffering, wherever he may be.   


  1. I am sorry for your loss. I lost my dad to a brain tumor 6 weeks ago. I grieve more that my daughter won't have time with her Poppy than for my loss. I told her that, when she wants to talk to him, she can just look at the sky and wave and say, "Hi Poppy," and he'll see her. Sidekick saw his grampa and that's pretty cool.

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. It is wonderful that you were able to get there in time to say your goodbyes, I'm sure it was a relief to him to hear your voices.

    I also wasn't too sure on how I felt about the afterlife when my grandfather passed away this past winter. I pretty much explained it the exact way you did, even though at the time my son was 18 months. My son still occasionally talks about/to his great grandfather, and it is thru those experiences, that have come to actually believe that we are being watched over by him.

    Luckily, Sidekick will be able to learn all about the wonderful man that cared so much for him for the first two sure to always share stories with him.

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. This brought tears to my eyes. You did a wonderful thing taking Sidekick to say good-bye.