I used to be incredibly afraid of dying. Now, don't get me wrong - there are still many things I want to accomplish and experience in this life before I am called home to rest, but the fear does not lie in wait - prepared to bite and nip at the security that faintly comes in this world.
Anxiety is something that has plagued me for quite some time now - over minor things and raging over major things. Death used to be one of the minor things - because it wasn't a more pressing matter to me than to any other human living now - I do not know when it will come, or in what form, only that it will - it is one of the very few promises kept in this world, you know. So there I was, newly into my twenties and the fear of death was so overcoming, so overpowering that it became something I absolutely needed to be OVER.
There are still days I get frightened over how very much has been left undone - in the event that my next breath should be my last - but overall, a calmness has found a way to wash over me . . .
The morbidity of these thoughts is not something I am overlooking - I am aware that, at 26, being consumed with what I must do before I am no longer able to do it is, by and large, taking up a plethora of time in which I could be, ya know, doing all the things I need to be doing before the final minutes are upon me.
But days like today - anniversaries of the nature of this particular anniversary, make me think a little bit longer, a little bit harder, about the days I've yet to live - and have me questioning, well, just how many are even left?
You see, nine years ago today, this man I knew - with a beard so white, young kids in town would climb in his lap come Christmas time just to tell him about that new bike they'd be pining after - was called home, was asked to go rest high on that Mountain.
Nine years ago today, this man I knew - who always slapped at his knees when he thought something was irreversibly funny - was reached out to by the sweet and gracious Lord and was walked into the stars by Him.
Nine years ago today, this man I knew - who helped raise and shape and mold three girls, who became women I love and could not live without, was taken quickly, and without pain, lying next to the woman whom he loved since he was a Senior in high school.
Nine years ago today, this man I knew - who was a daddy to my daddy and his brother Jon - was ushered in to Heaven.
He loved without hesitation; he lived incredibly with integrity; he helped without question - he was my grandpy.
Rocky Top was his favorite song, and he loved to spin his Duff girls around on a dance floor any chance he could get - I can't say how thankful I am to have gotten to spin a couple times around with him on a long ago Saturday night . . .
So days like today, when the air just feels a little heavy with the missing, I wonder how many days I might have left . . .
To make a family like he did.
To leave a legacy the way he did.
To imprint the sound of my laughter on everyone's memory - just as he did.
Days like today, when it hurts a little to talk about him, it stings the eyes to even think about him - I am thankful for just one more day to love without hesitation, live incredibly with integrity, to help without question.
I am thankful to be the daughter of a man who was a son of the man who looked like Santa Claus and let the kids tell him what they wanted, of the man who had highlighters in the front pocket of those blue and white striped bib overalls, of the man who always called me Steffi, let me see him cry, and taught me about the clouds.
So while I'm still living this life I was blessed with, I will remember the way he lived and loved and attempt to model it the best I can; I'll cry a little every time I hear his favorite song, or any song with a fiddle, for that matter, and I will always pray a similar prayer - where his irreplaceable soul is concerned . . .
I hope you have miles and miles of field to farm, grandpy - tell Him I say hi. And, please grandpy, please - save me a dance.