Last night my beloved Abuelito passed away. Although he'd been very ill for some time and his death was not unexpected, his departure still hurts. Although we are relieved that he is no longer in pain, our family still hurts. And although I know he is now in the presence of Jesus, my heart still hurts.
Growing up as a missionary kid, I did not have the privilege of seeing my grandparents very often. Yet, in Abuelito, the Lord blessed me with a loving grandfather who never made me feel like a
stranger, despite the fact that we lived thousands of miles apart and
saw each other only once every few years.
As an adult, I didn't call him as often as I should have. When we did talk, though, my Abuelito always had something of value to share, whether the topic of conversation was a happy one or not. A couple of times he told me that during my pregnancy he'd look at the pictures of my growing belly and think, "Que valiente es mi madre." I replied that I wasn't brave, that I was just doing what I had to do, but he remained unswayed in his conviction. Many times since then, when I have felt unequal to the task of being a mother to quadruplets, I have recalled his words and felt reassured by his utter confidence in me.
When the babies were born, I knew that I would probably never be able to take the kids to Peru during my Abuelito's lifetime, and I was equally sure that he would never be able to make the trip here at his age (he was then 88). I was resigned to the fact that my last surviving grandparent would not meet my children. But when the babies were 8 months old, my Tio Ner and Tia Harriet gave me the incredible gift of bringing my Abuelito here to meet his great-grandchildren, a precious opportunity for which I will be forever grateful.
Today, as I think about my parents traveling to Peru for the funeral on Sunday, I can't help but remember my last goodbye with Abuelito. It was here in my house, as he and my Tia Julia were getting ready to head to the airport. I met him between the kitchen and the playroom, and we embraced. We hugged for a long time. We held each other very tight. I did not want to let go. I cried very hard. I whispered in his ear, "This might be the last time I see you. You know that." Smiling, he replied, "Tal vez no" ("maybe not").
Turns out we were both right.
I'll see you in heaven, Abuelito. Someday.