It was one year ago today that my Grandpa passed away. He had a rich and full life, full of experiences and family. It seems that in the past year since his death, I have had more of an opportunity to learn about his time in the war, as a POW, and view him as a working, father of five, rather than as a grandpa. I also was able to watch the transition of my mom during the last months of his life. Being a typical middle child, my mom has always been a peacemaker and is a great person to call on to "take care of you" when you're not feeling well. But last year, she took the word, "caretaker" to a whole new level. I saw her spend endless hours at my Grandpa's apartment visiting with him, talking with him, taking him on walks and cooking for him. This is in addition to never missing a doctor's appointment, talking with the nurse aids and comforting my Grandma every night. I watched my mom transition from a daughter, to a parent - not my parent, but as my Grandpa's parent. It certainly taught me about respecting life and how to be a comfort for someone at the end.
The family had a beautiful funeral and procession last August. We prayed in the church, buried my Grandpa in his grave and said our goodbyes. The same afternoon that my Grandpa was buried, we started our next transition into celebration - because only two days later, on August 14, Brian and I got married. My mom transitioned from taking care of my grandpa and tucking her grief away, to help me get ready for our wedding. Brian and I had a small ceremony at my parent's house with only our family (and Maya!) attending.
Looking back, it is amazing to think that we all were at a funeral on Thursday morning, worked on getting the house ready on Friday and stood before each other with raindrops falling on our heads on Saturday. Right after our vows were said, the rain stopped and we all were amazed to see a beautiful rainbow shining above us. It was a sign that my Grandpa has transitioned to heaven and was joining us on our special day.
And I love being a wife. Never before have I felt such camaraderie and teamwork. Brian is my other half in every sense of the word. I trust him implicitly and have watched him stand by my side during my diagnosis (while we were both expecting parents!) I remember the day that I got my cancer diagnosis - Friday, March 11. Brian and I were moving in to our new house. We had packed up our condo, unloaded everything from storage and had just made the trip over to our new home. My parents, Brian's parents and Meghan were on the way to spend the day with us to help us unpack, but hadn't yet arrived. Brian had just left to head back to the condo when I received the phone call from the doctor. Once Dr. VandenBosch confirmed that I had cancer, and it had invaded the breast tissue, I didn't hear the rest of the conversation. All I could think about was calling Brian so he could come back to the house right away. I was sitting up in our bedroom (which had no furniture!) and text him. It said, "Come back now." It was less than five minutes that I heard the door slam shut and Brian ran up the stairs. He sat down beside me, put one arm on my shoulder and the other hand on my big pregnant belly. It was at that moment that Brian and I transitioned from being newlyweds to being a couple at war against an unseen enemy. I just looked at him and cried. I cried because I was afraid and cried because our beautiful future had a big question mark on it. It took us quite a few weeks to make the transition together. When couples go through something life-changing, each person tends to move at a different pace and process in a different way. I felt myself becoming needy and dependent - two characteristics that I typically don't possess. Brian felt like he couldn't protect me and out of control. It has been hours of conversation and tears and laughter, but I know that we are going to be okay. I can't believe we have only been married a year - sometimes it feels like we have been through so much together, I can't remember my life without him. I am proud of us for getting through. Brian jokes that we will be bored next year when we don't have a baby, new house, new jobs, and a new disease to keep us busy...but I am looking forward to our "bored" time together.