My eldest granddaughter was devastated when her Grandfather abandoned the family. She was poleaxed (as was I) when he died so unexpectedly. My beautiful, gentle, loving, compassionate granddaughter was never given the opportunity to tell her grandfather goodbye. He died half a world away and she was denied so much as holding his hand or kissing his cheek. It is the sort of loss which is irrecoverable.
What does one do with that sort of grief and pain? When my mother died I went into the fields around the farm and screamed into the sky. It was the day I gave up on “God” because “God” gave up on me. We’ve never been on good terms since, and deity has been demoted to Higher Power. Instead, I’ve the Tao, the Buddha, Celtic heritage spirituality, and the Higher Power of the 12 steps.
Life and times have changed. There are no fields to go to and scream out one’s agony. Instead, we have the Internet. She tweeted her farewell and blessings on the Grandfather she loved and lost, not once, but twice. Why does love have to come at so great a cost?
Life is so fleeting. So fragile. We often make such hideous blunders without meaning to. We often harm innocents – both adults and children. It is the children who suffer most, their spirits crushed, consumed by feelings they were to blame for the debacles created by the adults in their lives. It is why abuse and neglect is generational – we get it from our parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. Hopefully, there are other family members to pick up the mantle of love and responsibility and help the innocents recover from profound loss.
We are all flawed human beings – even my perfectly imperfect eldest granddaughter. All I could do was tell her that her Grandfather loved her as much as he was able. As an adopted child who never bonded with his adoptive parents or elder sibling, his ability to accept or express love was severely damaged. So he showed his love in the only way many men of his generation could – by buying things. He already knew how kind and intelligent she was so he loved to hear the stories of her walking down the aisle at a restaurant, waving to everyone as if she were Miss America. In his heart, he always knew she actually WAS Miss America.
Our eldest grandchild was his first chance to learn how to love a child. He was amazed at how tiny she was, how perfect those little fingers and toes, how soft her white-blond curls. He was terrified he’d damage her by touching her. She was his chance to learn how to love – how to really reach beyond himself and his own terror of relationships – to reach inside his patched and tattered soul – and give something more than he’d ever given before. He talked her through colic by distracting her. He became a furby after hers broke, making Furby noises.
And our eldest granddaughter? As always, she did a magnificent job.