I walked into a very peaceful moment. My mom and two of my cousins were at Grandpa's bedside, holding his hand and talking to him. With his right arm sore, the sweet spot to be was on his left, where you could gently hold his hand and not worry about waking him. Grandpa dozed in and out as we talked to him, as we tried to laugh more than cry. His breathing was laboured, but no cough came to clear the congestion away.
As the night closed in, I knew I needed to get home, but I didn't want to say goodbye. Goodbye is so hard to say, especially when you know in your heart it's the last goodbye you'll be privileged to say. Each of us were given time with Grandpa alone, and this is what I said:
"Grandpa, when I was eight years old, you gave me my first Book of Mormon. Inside the front cover you wrote," Dear Katie, We know the Lord will bless you in many ways for reading this book. As you read, study, ponder the words herein you'll come to know what we know, "That this is God's word to us." He will bless you in other ways too. You'll soon realize that your ability to read and understand will grow. All our love to a very special girl, Grandpa and Grandma James"
"Thank you for always telling me I'm special. Thank you for always loving me. Thank you for being my Grandpa. Thank you for making us a forever family, and for showing all of us the way to live. Thank you for giving us strength, and showing us what strength is. I love you Grandpa. I know - we all know - how hard you've fought, and it's okay to let go now. Until we meet again, know that I love you, just as I know that you love me."
I kissed my sweet Grandpa's cheeks, squeezed his hand lightly, and turned to go. As I hugged everyone that was lingering longer, I felt the heaviness of the moment on all that were present. Death is not an easy subject to digest, or a moment that can be bore alone. I'm grateful Grandma was not alone.
At 11am on Wednesday, November 16th, my gentle giant slipped peacefully away. Ronald Keith James