There is always one family member that we connect with in a very special way, for me it was my Paw (my mom's dad). My mom used to tell me when I was little that I was his shadow, wherever he was I wasn't far behind. Paw wasn't one to really show his affection with hugs and things of that nature but all 4 of his grandkids knew he loved us.
He would build us rope swings, tell us stories from his childhood, set us straight when we were in the wrong and dry our tears when we got hurt or when some boy broke mine or our my cousin Jessie's heart. Since I was the second oldest grandchild, I was right in between my older cousin David and my younger brother Shawn. Considering Jessie is four years younger than me, I had to be one of the boys or do my own thing.
I was building forts, throwing pine cones pretending they were grenades and shooting BB guns while most girls were playing with baby dolls and playing dress up. Though I still liked dolls and dress up, I knew better than to do that around the boys.
Unfortunately all good things come to and end. We all grew up, got jobs and started our own families and things took a turn for the worse with my Paw. We found out that he had COPD (it's a lung disease) and with him being in his late 60's and already having severe diabetes, his body just wasn't healing fast enough and after three months of being in and out of the hospital his will to fight was gone.
We had just brought him home for hospice and since I worked nights I would go over during the day and help David take care of him while our Nanna worked. I noticed that I was very nauseated and tired but I thought it was from not getting a lot of sleep and stress. After a week of it getting worse something told me to take a pregnancy test.
Considering my doctor told me my chances of having a baby after miscarrying my first were slim to none I tried to ignore it but the nagging feeling wouldn't go away. So before work one night I took a test and to my shock it was positive. Joy and fear filled my heart but I decided to keep it to myself. With everything going on there wasn't really a right time to tell my family.
The next day while I was there alone with my Paw making sure he was comfortable and his vitals were OK, he grabbed my hand and said "Little girl, you listen to me good. I know this ole crud is going to get me but don't you cry one tear. I've lived a good life and I've watched all my grandbabies grow up. I'm proud of all of you, understand me?"
I choked back my tears and smiled at him, kissing him on the forehead. His voice was shaky and I knew it took a lot just for him to tell me that. "Yes Paw, I understand", my voice trying to break. I stopped myself, gaining my composure and told my Paw that I loved him.
Later that night at work, his words rolling through my head, it took everything not to break. He had lived a good life married to my Nanna and has two kids of his own, watched us four grow up and even got to meet his great-grandson (my nephew) but I knew he would never get to meet my baby and it broke my heart in the worst way.
I wanted to beg God for him to have more time, for a miracle but I knew my Paw would just keep suffering and the miracle I had wanted was already growing inside me. Not long after that thought the work phone rang and my coworker said it was for me. My feet felt so heavy as I went to answer, had the worst already happened?
I answered and mom told me that the nurse stopped in and said any family that wanted to be there with him needed to come soon. I told my boss and he let me leave early. As soon as I stepped foot in their small house I could feel death hanging heavy in the air. They were just about to take off his oxygen when I had approached his bedside, I took his hand but I couldn't say a word.
Remembering my promise to him earlier that day, I gently squeezed his hand and for a minute I swear every bit of his pain down to his labored breathing sunk into me but for that moment he looked peaceful. We then heard the monitor beep and I watched him take his final breath his grip on my hand released. It was then that I heard in my soul "An old life passes, a new life begins", and I have held on to that saying ever since.
As I walked up to his coffin during his funeral, his scent and a warmth surrounded me. I knew it was his way of letting me know he was with me and for that I was thankful.
Eight months and a week later I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. The day had been filled with family and congratulations so my little one and I were tired, the nurse had ushered everyone out as Lilly had woke up for her feeding when I heard light footsteps coming in my room.
Thinking it was a nurse to check my stitches, I covered up a bit trying not to disturb Lilly and turned to see no one but rather I heard my Paw's voice "She is beautiful, I am so proud of you." Knowing that my Paw had come to see my baby girl was one of the best moments of my day.
Even now with Lilly being two he still comes to visit us. A few days ago it was just Lilly and I in the apartment and I heard her squeal in the playroom and say "Hey there!" I knew her dad hadn't come in because I would have heard the door open from the kitchen. So I went to her playroom and there my Paw was sitting on the floor watching her. It's my first time seeing him since he died, he turned and smiled at me and walked away. I am still surprised Lilly saw him, but I'm glad she was able to meet him even if it was only his spirit.