“I know for me, I’ve been brought back twice, and honestly, at this point in my life, I look back and I wish they would have just let me go peacefully,” Doug said in the soft and gentle words that came from his dry chapped lips. His shaking hands brought his water bottle towards his mouth and he sipped carefully on the straw. The gurgling sounds from the bottom of the straw were the only sounds I heard above the intense static silence that was filling my ears for a moment. Then I saw the walls of this cold, little, gray conference room closing in on me, and I heard the beeping noises from the machines outside the door. This couldn’t be happening; we can’t be sitting here talking about Grant. What’s going on….
Together we’ve finally made it to the end of this part of the story, and usually when we hear the word “END” we conjure up all this ultimate finality and try to create some “closure” in our mind, whatever that is supposed to mean. In reality, the end is always the doorway into the next piece of the future. The future is glistening somewhere on the other side of the dawn, waiting to sneak up and surprise us when we aren’t awake yet. It’s just like that first sunbeam that hits you in the face when you round the bend in the road. It’s surprising and warm and refreshing, and it usually startles you a little. It’s already there, we just can’t see it before we round the turn. The darkness at the end of the night makes it hard to see, but I promise you, it’s there. Don’t be afraid of the ending. One thing Grant taught me is that the end is just the closure of one chapter so you can start writing the next chapter yourself.
I promised you yesterday that I was going to tell you about the gift that Grant gave me, so that’s what I’ll do today. (See Chucking Apples Part I, Part II, and Part III) Grant and I started out digging a hole to China, we successfully broke a few windows playing ball, and when the time was right, Grant sat by me as my best man in my wedding. You see, he was there for me as far back as I can remember, and that’s one of the greatest gifts Grant gave me;
Our world seems to move faster and faster, and even though it’s been over five years now, it seems like it was yesterday when I bent down and hugged Grant for the very last time. They say that time heals everything. I’m not sure about that yet. I just know that I am finally to the place where I can talk about the gift that my friend gave me. Sometimes you don’t always understand gifts until they are taken away, and even then, you may not understand them until God returns them to you in a new form. The most amazing lifelong gift that Grant gave me was his faithful friendship. He showed me a little picture of what the faithfulness of God is like, and he did that his entire life.
Early in 2007 my world was changing around me faster than I could have ever imagined. My work and my marriage had turned out to be more than I could handle, and as a result, I didn’t really know who my real friends were. But Grant would always call me and ask me what was going on and tell me to come by and hang out. I didn’t do it often enough then, and it’s something that I wish I could go back and change, but I am happy for the times we did have.
Grant was living on his own in an apartment up in Chardon at this point, so by the time I slowed down and finally made time to go chill out, I’d go pick up a six pack of Killians Irish Red and we’d sit down and watch T.V. together, or turn on a movie and just talk. I was working 80 or 90 hours a week for all the wrong reasons so the conversations were pretty short after I got there because I’d fall asleep on his couch while he sat in his wheelchair reading the paper or just sitting there quietly. I’d always wake up about an hour later and Grant was still sitting there happily with a big grin on his face doing whatever he was doing. He never cared that I came over tired and wasn’t that much fun. He was just happy to hang out and do whatever. Once in awhile, we’d go up to the mall or go out to eat, and later that year in 2007 on June 13, his birthday, we went out and had our last steak dinner together at Long Horn. I remember every moment of that night, and I’m so thankful God gave me that day with him. It is one of the wonderful treasures of my life.
Strength doesn’t come by holding on…true strength emerges in letting go.
beep…beep…beep…beep…beep….. oh my God, what am I doing here? I opened my eyes again, and through the tears I could make out Grant’s face. I bent down and kissed Grant’s forehead and told him, “I’m gonna miss you, buddy.” And then I don’t really remember much after that. It was a blur.
When someone disappears from your life, I think it takes a long time for that vacuum to get filled, and in the meantime the void tends to suck everything past it like a cyclone. For me it was my business, my marriage, and my home that disappeared into the void. My drive and ambition vaporized and were sucked in; on top of that, almost all my friends were sucked by too. I couldn’t or wouldn’t stop anything either; I was just standing next to that hospital bed in my mind, and all I knew is that my faithful and beloved friend was gone, and I was all alone. The finality of that moment seemed infinite. It was July 3, 2007, and for me, time ground to a screeching jarring halt and there was nothing I could do about it.
Luckily for me, and for you, the story doesn’t end here. I keep trying to wrap this up every time I sit down, but I promise you this time, it’s just going take one more day. Tomorrow, I’m going to share with you the first new chapter of the next part of my life, and how Grant’s gift to me lives on.