Anna-Catherine Kueng ~ Assistant Editor
When I was 17-years-old, I lost my grandfather to cancer. This was the first time I truly experienced the magnitude of grief. Although my faith gave me peace about my Daddoo’s passing, it was still difficult to get through the weeks following his death. Everything reminded me of my grandfather: the Tennessee Volunteers, French toast sticks, and billy goats. Those were a few of my Daddoo’s favorite things, and though they may not hold much significance to others, hearing about them nearly brought me to tears after that March day when he told me goodbye.
That is the incredible and frustrating thing about grief: it must be walked through individually. Nobody on Earth could grieve for my Daddoo the way I did, because nobody on Earth had the same relationship and memories I had with him. My Nana, for instance, had to grieve (and still grieves) differently than me because I was not married to that man for 50+ years like she was. Even at his funeral, I realized that even though everyone in the pews were sad, they were all sad for different reasons. To some people, my grandpa was a great loan officer and a valuable member on the board of the Piedmont Credit Union, and to others, like myself, he was the world.
I learned more from my grandfather then words can describe. He taught me what it looks like for a man to love and respect a woman, he taught me how to be financially smart, he taught me what faith looks like in everyday life, and he taught me to believe in myself. When I made straight A’s on report cards, or won writing awards, my Daddoo praised me as if I were the smartest girl in the world. As I grew older, he continued to encourage me and helped me realize my potential.
On my seventeenth birthday, a few weeks before he died, my Nana asked him, “Isn’t Anna Catherine beautiful?” I will never forget how he looked at me, paused, and then whispered, “Absolutely beautiful.” That was one of the last things I remember him saying before he died, and that was the first day in my life I believed without a doubt, regardless of all the insecurities I carried since middle school, that I am beautiful. The sincerity he spoke with will always stay with me, and it is one of the reasons I miss him so deeply.
It has been two years since my Daddoo died, and I still cry when I think about certain memories I had with him. Some days I think I am fine, and then random conversations with him pop into my head and the grief returns. However, I am realizing that love always comes with costs and the fear of losing somebody, or actually losing somebody, is the price we must be willing to pay.
One of my favorite Coldplay songs has beautiful lyrics relating to grief: “though you may be gone, and the world may not know, still I see you…the light that you left me will everglow.” I listen to this song often when I miss my Daddoo or if I am apart from my loved ones.
Even though my grandfather is no longer on Earth with me, his impact on my life has remained. It has been said that love never dies, and I believe that with my whole heart. My Daddoo’s heart for me has changed my heart for the better, and his effects on my life are irreversible.
So though grief may be one of the hardest parts of life, it is important to remember in the midst of crying how blessed you are to have someone you love, someone you miss. After all, what would life be without love?