Living with forever in mind: A tribute to my Pops

“But…I could fail, you know?” I said.

“By not trying, yes you could”
, my Pops responded with as he set his little bowl of goldfish on his TV tray.

This was one of the last intense, full conversations I had with my Pops about a month ago, right before he was admitted to the hospital for a broken hip.

He was adamant that I tell him about Cleerely Stated and how I was spending my time and share with him my dreams, so I did. As I spilled out my fears and he intently listened, I could hear his brain clicking away.

You see, my Pops was no normal 91-year-old man. He was sharp as a tack- legit more with it than most 60-year-olds. He was courageous and gentle. He was the kindest man you’d ever meet and his kindness was not selective; everyone received it freely. He was a calculated risk-taker and brilliantly talented. He was wise and led with a silent confidence like no one I’ve ever seen. He was resilience personified and he was a deep believer in the power of positivity.

As he responded with “By not trying, yes you could”, I realized that before I had ever even uttered a word, I knew what Pops was going to tell me. I knew that he was going to support me and tell me he believed in me. I knew he was going to encourage me to take a leap of faith because all great things require a leap of faith.

I knew these things because my Pops didn’t just talk about them, he lived them.

When he passed away late Wednesday night, I couldn’t find the words to accurately convey how I was feeling. Now, I do not suppose I still can. Will I ever find the right words to describe the difference he made in my life and the lives of others? Probably not.

Some people shake the world and touch your heart with such a force, that words simply do not do them justice.

I have feared this day, if I am being honest. I love my Pops so much and there is nothing more relaxing to me than sitting on his couch, eating goldfish or grapes, drinking a Diet coke and talking to him about life’s mysteries. He made for the greatest conversation. So when I received the call that he was no longer with us, I became hysterical.

It can not be! Death? No, please. No, Lord, this can’t happen.

The word alone just sounds cold and empty, doesn’t it?

It spares no one, nor does it play favorites. It has a way of humbling us all, as we began as dust and we return to dust.

It reminds those left on this earth that the treasures they have been storing up do not travel with them when they go. While our days sometimes seem long, our life here is but a dash.

But what follows the dash?

Forever, if you believe.

Forever in a place so magical, you can hardly believe it’s real.

Eternity with the definition of love itself.

So, while I have feared the day I would lose him, I realized that my Pops had received the greatest gift of all that Wednesday night—seeing the face of Jesus.

It has only been two days and I can already feel him watching over me. I can feel myself start to break down and I can hear his voice say, “Sweetheart, I’m more than okay. You go live!”

Because, that was the man that he was and that is the angel that he is—selfless, generous, kind, feisty and resilient beyond words.

And so, as we move forward, and the days become weeks and the weeks become months, my family and I no longer have a choice to just survive this life.

For Jesus mostly but now for my Pops, thriving is necessary. Crying will happen and mourning will be present but joy will speak louder.

Thank You, Jesus. For your comfort that covers our sadness. For your kindness that meets us where we are. For your peace that surpasses our understanding. For your sacrifice so that my Pops can now live forever and ever and ever.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” -John 5:24

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” -Revelation 21:3-4

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