Losing and gaining

September 25, 2014
Tamara Petkau |

September has been a whirlwind of change. It always is. One day we’re enjoying the lazy days of summer, when our mornings are spent park-hopping, lunches are always picnics, and supper is usually topped off with bicycle rides and ice cream cones. Bedtime is flexible, shoes are optional, and everyone goes to bed with dirt and sand under their fingernails. 

And then September comes around and BAM! Everything changes. Preschool starts. Work resumes. Alarm clocks are set and bedtime is enforced. Sometimes if feels like life does a full 180 in September.

To be honest, I don’t mind the changing of the seasons. Sometime I feel that—if September didn’t exist—we would spiral out of control with the freedom of summer. September reigns us in.

But this September has been different. My younger brother got married. I had been waiting for this day since I met his fiancé, now wife. The wedding was held outside at my parents’ house, and everyone had been preparing for this day since the moment he proposed. For a full week, our house was filled with the most awesome of people—their friends and family from around the world. There was so much excitement, anticipation, and chaos—the good kind.  There was so much laughter, food and drink. I wanted it to never end.

But everything does end, and we were sadly reminded of this the day before the wedding when my grandpa passed away. He was 91. He had lived a good life. But we were still surprised and devastated. The night before the wedding, my family viewed his body. I cried so hard I thought I might explode. I actually wanted to scream with sadness, but I stifled it and just gave myself an epic headache instead.

And yet, on the day of the wedding, there was no sadness. There was reflection, but mostly incredible happiness and love and laughter—all the other wonderful things that come with a happy marriage—all the things my grandpa embodied on a daily basis.

He was an awesome man, and I realized, watching my brother tear up the dance floor, look lovingly at his partner in life, and enjoy a hearty meal that he worked so hard for, that my grandpa lives on my little brother. And when I watch my father give his everything to my daughters, I realize that they will get to grow up with the same grandpa that I did. They will grow up with the same values and appreciation for family that my grandpa exemplified.

The night of Grandpa’s death, which was also the night of the rehearsal dinner and the night before the wedding, I found my father sitting in the kitchen corner on the floor with E snuggled on his lap. They were sharing a piece of cake. Amid the backdrop of such hustle, they had found each other and were enjoying a quiet and intimate moment. They clung to each other, both providing the other with exactly what was needed—comfort, love, and chocolate.

This September, our family changed. We lost. We gained. We grew.

Author Name: 
Tamara Petkau
Share this page: Twitter Instagram

Add new comment

Canadian Mennonite invites comments and encourages constructive discussion about our content. Actual full names (first and last) are required. Comments are moderated and may be edited. They will not appear online until approved and will be posted during business hours. Some comments may be reproduced in print.