Yesterday was the one year anniversary of your passing, and because I have been thinking about you and missing you a lot lately, I thought I'd write you a letter.
A lot happens in the space of a year, and a lot has happened since you left us. I like to think that you've been around for some of it in one way or another, but let me tell you about some of it, anyway. After all, you were never one to protest the telling of the same story twice.
The days after you died were really hard, but also really lovely. We were all together, close at home. We felt an absolute outpouring of love from all around us. Hundreds of people left messages on Facebook, although you never had an account. The flower shop started saving our delivery for the end of the day to save making several trips every time they got a order. We ran out vases. People loved you.
We planned your funeral, and made it a celebration of your life. If you were there (and, as someone who believes in an afterlife, I think you get to be there for your own funeral) I think you would have enjoyed it. The church was filled with family and friends, many driving long distances, and several flying in from England in your honor. Your choir sang. Your grandkids were adorable and behaved beautifully. You were carried out to Johannes Hanssen's Valdresmarsj to commemorate Valdres, the beautiful part of Norway where you were born, and were soon to return to.
After the funeral, we invited everyone back to Skjold, the same place where you celebrated your 60th birthday with many of the same family and friends. Over 100 people joined us, and we joked that you would be in a panic over whether or not there would be enough food for everyone. There was, even though we couldn't fit everyone inside, and people good-humoredly took turns sitting and eating inside, and soaking up the bright spring sunshine outside. People told stories about you (which you would have loved!) and stayed for hours enjoying each other's company and your good memory. You would have had the best time.
After that, life quickly returned to normal. We soon flew home to our brand new home, and started settling into our new life. It felt strange to start something new and fresh while simultaneously making sense of losing you, but I knew you'd be so proud and happy for us. I was so sad you were gone, but like Mummy said shortly after your passing, it's hard to be sad when there are two little people asking you to play with them.
A handful of times when I have missed you
- When we put the storage shelves together in the basement, and they were so cleverly made and so solid that I could just hear they way you would say "ah!" as you approvingly inspected them.
- Whenever I try to do family history and wish I could ask you about "who is this again? Where are they from? Who was their mother?" You left some very big shoes to fill!
- When I found the perfect Christmas present for you, only to remember that you don't need presents anymore.
- When we all sat down to Christmas dinner together (can you believe Jeremy came?!?) and you weren't there.
- When we were sitting in the big fireplace at Hermit's Rest at the Grand Canyon, and I remembered that magical day we spent there five years earlier. The Grand Canyon was still magical (Seriously! That place!) but you weren't with us this time.
- Whenever I see an old-fashioned train. At least you passed that particular passion to Espen, who is every bit as dotty about trains as you are.
- When I made kålrabistappe to go with the roast lamb for dinner on Easter Sunday, and I thought about how it was one of the very few things you actually made yourself because you loved it so much. Also, when I make fiskegrateng and add macaroni, because you once said that it has to have macaroni.
- When I look at the kids and remember that they are growing up without their Grandad. But then Espen will say one of his sweet, spontaneous little prayers out of nowhere and ask that "Grandad can be happy in heaven", and then I am reminded that perhaps they are learning other important lessons instead.
I don't think it has really occurred to any of us grownups to pray for your well-being in heaven. I think we just assume that you in a place without any more pain or suffering, where you can finally get the rest you needed. I like to imagine the family reunion that must have taken place when you arrived, and is probably still taking place as you make your way around to all your ancestors to fill in the blanks of your family history.
What I tell people when they ask, is that we miss you, but that we are grateful that you were ours, and that is true. What I don't tell so many people is that I know the day will one day come when we will all get to be together again. We can continue our conversation from the last time we saw each other then.
Daddy, I love you, and I miss you. You were the best daddy for me.
Lots of love from your little girl,
PS. Including a recent photo of the grandkids. I know what you're like!