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A knock on the door interrupted my Saturday afternoon. My sweet friend Tyler stood on the front porch, bearing gifts. Ben & Jerry’s tucked in one hand. A card clasped in the other. She wrapped me in arms wide open, holding me as the tears began to fall . . . again. As she left, I opened the card to reveal a blue picture of an octopus.

“If I could hug you with eight arms at once without totalling freaking you out,” the card read, “I would.”

I tucked the card into my Bible, knowing I would need to laugh and cry all at once many more times in the coming days.

Friday night I had gotten one of those calls that makes your heart skip several beats. My dad’s serious tone left no room for this late night conversation to bring anything but grief. The words slipped out, filling the chasm of silence, unable to be withdrawn.

My beloved grandfather – the Texas cowboy, the international chemical engineer, the over 6-foot-tall football star, the man with the deep laugh and strong hands, the man whose actions regularly told me how proud he was of me – had gone on to Glory on his 82nd birthday.

No warning proceeded death. No signs gave us pause. No goodbyes were spoken. He died as he would have wanted. Quietly. Unobtrusively. Without weakness or sickness. He died the Texas cowboy and the strong man that he has always been. He died my grandfather.

Sobs split the telephone lines. I began to rock. Shock settling like a wet blanket over emotions. Losing the ability to reason, to think.

I bought an emergency flight to Houston, and yesterday pulled myself together to travel. My husband packed for me after he made me pizza and set me down on the couch in front of a TV comedy.

I’m not grieving  yet. It’s not real. Tomorrow I will watch as they lower my grandfather’s rough shell into the ground. Maybe it will feel real then. Maybe not.

The words of “Miracle” by Shane & Shane play in my heart:

“Today I’m asking for a miracle . . .

I don’t need to see the cancer go away.

I just need to know that it is going to be okay.

I need You, Lord, right away.”

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