‘I know how much you loved him.’ I very much, actively, presently, LOVE him. That hasn’t stopped. It never will.’: Woman shares thoughts on grief after loss of ‘Papa’

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“It’s never made sense to me that when someone passes, everyone speaks about them in past tense.

‘Jim was a hell of a guy!’

‘I know how much you loved him.’

‘I know how much he loved you.’

Was. Loved. Loved. Past tense. But why? None of those things have changed. My Papa died being a hell of a guy; he will forever be a hell of a guy.

He died loving us. I like to think that hasn’t changed as he’s watched all of us from Up There over this past year.

And certainly, we all still do, very much, actively, presently, LOVE him. That hasn’t stopped. It never will.

I watched a movie the other day, and a woman spoke about grief. She said, ‘You’ve moved to a new place. And you have to figure out how in the hell to live there.’

It struck me. Time without Papa has felt exactly that way.

Like I’ve stepped into a new place. A new room. A new life. And in this new place, he is no longer visibly, tangibly beside me.

As much as I’d like to think that in time, I’ll figure out how to live in ‘this new place’ without him, I don’t think I will. I don’t think I’m supposed to.

I think walking through the world without someone who impacted you so profoundly is supposed to be messy. Confusing. Indescribable. Painful.

But also, unexpectedly inspiring.

Because as I navigate each new journey in life, greet each new day, tiptoe through each woe, I yearn for him.

And in my yearning, it makes me reach for more.

It makes me laugh louder.

It makes me feel deeper.

It makes me love harder.

It makes me get up and try again.

And again.

And again.

Because I do, actively, continuously, presently, love him.

And as I work my way through everything, I hear his voice. His sayings. His chuckle.

I see his encouraging grin.

I see his eyes peeking over the top of his glasses as he looks at me, saying everything he needs to say.

I feel his firm shoulder squeeze.

His soft kiss on the top of my head.

His huge paws in an embrace.

A giant of a man in every way.

And I get to love him. Still. Forever.

I get to chug along with his voice often passing through my mind.

I get to know him well enough that when I miss him and wish I could seek his advice, discover what his take would be on something, hear his laugh boom through a room, if I’m still long enough, I can know exactly what he would say.

Hearing it play out in my mind and smiling.

And feeling his legendary laugh so closely it still shakes my heart as if he were sitting in the chair beside me.

I get to try to live in a way that makes him proud. I get to love him, that ‘hell of a guy’—then, now, and always.

And through it all, I get to know that I was, and still am, loved, by that very same ‘hell of a guy’.

Then.

Now.

Always.”

close up of the sand with footprints and a wave coming in
Courtesy of Kelsey Pfleiderer

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelsey Pfleiderer. Follow their journey on InstagramFacebook, and their blogDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your journey. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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