A Lesson on Good-Byes

Written by Michelle

The phone call came in about midnight. It was one of those calls that I feared, but expected. My husband picked it up half asleep, in a somber state. I could hardly make out what was coming from the other line. But I knew, I just knew what had happened. In our dark bedroom, my eyes started making out his silhouette as he replied, “Okay Mom….okay…okay. I’m sorry.”

My heart sank.

The phone call was brief and disheartening. I placed my hand on my husband’s shoulder. I didn’t know the right words to say. We had talked about it, yet feared the moment…this moment. His grandfather had passed; he was no longer with us. We had wished for his pain and distress to dissolve. We wished for him to be in a better place. But now nothing could replace our sorrow.

As soon as my husband hung up, we reached for each other. There wasn’t much to say. Or so I thought…

What transpired was a beautiful conversation. A moment I’ll treasure. Our grieving process together began by talking about our grandparents, the impact they had in our lives and how their character shaped us. We laughed about the thought of our grandfathers meeting now that they were together. We even wondered if Pap (his grandfather) was speaking in Spanish to my Papi (my grandfather). Or if Papi was trying to show off his English skills upon Pap’s arrival. We paid tribute to the memories that made us laugh, cry and learn from these amazing men, the recollections we loved as children and cling to as adults.

Then it hit us. This was bigger than “us”. We had to share the news with our children who loved and cherished every moment with their Pap.


When was the right time to talk about it? Were our kids ready for a funeral? Grieving? The concept of death? We had so many questions. Really, more so than answers.

The next day, unplanned, unprepared and with our hearts in our throats, we called our three kids to the dinner table. They sat immediately and listened (not a common practice). They instinctively perceived this was serious, and they quickly understood our tone.  We both took turns explaining what had happened and finished each other’s sentences. Unrehearsed, we looked at each other when we were at a loss for words. Immediately, the other would finish.

Our kids listened, they REALLY did. What started as a conversation driven by our fears, became something more led by our children. Roles shifted. My husband and I listened to them.

They simplified our words. They translated our thoughts for themselves and for each other. They helped us make sense of the situation. They both felt confident that their great grandfather was happy and not in pain. They were happy and sure that he had found friends and other family members who were already there. They tried to heal our pain. In the words of my five year old, “Mami, it’s ok…I understand that Pap’s body is with us, but his soul is in a better place.”

We took a deep breath and hugged them. They got it. They really did. And what we had worried over, they had taken upon themselves to resolve. Less was more, and in the eyes and heart of a child it made sense. More clearly now, it made sense to us.


This past weekend we celebrated the life of a man who cherished his wife, loved his family and treated friends as if they were a part of his home. His positive spirit, love for life and others will never be forgotten. I’m thankful to him and the impact he had on my family. I’m more grateful to my children for teaching me yet again another lesson in life. This time about grieving. Seen from the eyes of a child it’s so simple. So pure…it could not be more beautiful.


On Sunday before the services we went to Pap’s house. We did what he loved to do with those he loved and cherished the most.

We took time to “smell the flowers.” To share and spend true quality time with those we love.


We played softball. Because this sport (which he loved), like most, parallels so many life-changing events: play as a team; embrace the support network that teaches, encourages and cares.


We let go of our fears and embraced change.


We kept our memories close to our hearts, but we let our love drift like bubbles carelessly up to the heavens…with Pap.

Categories: Family

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17 replies

  1. Beautiful! So sorry for your loss…

  2. wow…just wow. I am sorry for your loss and wish i’d had your eloquence when my mother in law passed…

  3. Beautifully written Michelle! Again, what a gift you have and to share with all. Sympathy on your loss.

  4. Sympathies on your lost. Your post was written beautifully. Hold tight x

  5. Straight from your heart–how beautiful. What a lovely tribute to your father-in-law and his loving family.

  6. Thank you for sharing your loss and the amazing-ness of your children.

  7. Beautiful sentiments. What a special family!

  8. My condolences to your family, he sounded like a remarkable man.

  9. So beautiful and very true brought tears to our eyes

  10. He was….thank you for your kind words!

  11. Beautiful thoughts Michi. And I think of Abuela introducing everybody and just chatting away while Abuelita Carmin watches thoughtfully and of course Titi Mary would also be chatting away!

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