Justin's family has truly become my family. From the day I met them, I knew I was a part of their family. I never once doubted their love for me and I've never discredited my love for them.
Today, I'm dedicating my blog to Justin's Great Grandpa Bowen, who lost his battle to lung cancer and pneumonia today.
On July 31, 2010- Roy Bowen turned 90. We celebrated his birthday at Justin's parents house with a cookout. He was a humble man. In fact, if you didn't know it was his birthday- he wouldn't be the first to tell you. He grew up on a farm and ending up raising his own family on a farm. He survived the Great Depression and his final thought before entering the hospital was about his bank account. He and his family worked so very hard for everything they ever earned. And they saved everything the could...he is a true image of a hard working man for his family.
Sadly, he lost a daughter five years ago. I never met her, but I've heard wonderful stories about Donna. And as tears stream down my face reflecting on Roy's struggles and triumphs through life, I have a single image in my head. I see him dancing in heaven Donna. Holding her closely after all these years and dancing like she did with her father on her wedding day...it's beautiful and I choose to pick that current image above all others...
I had a great dinner with one of my best friends tonight and then I took myself shopping. A cute top. Skinny jeans. A belt. Two headbands....I was eager to show Justin my new purchases and he had a serious look on his face when I walked in the door.
He hugged me and kissed me, firmer than usual.
I pulled away and looked at him in the eyes.
"Grandpa passed away today," Justin said.
"Oh- Are you okay?" I asked.
"Yeah, I'm okay," Justin said. "Its like he knew it was his time to go. He was going to be released from the hospital tomorrow and they'd start reducing his fluids then..."
"Well," I started, "He's not in pain anymore..."
And then I just started crying. I couldn't help it. All I can think about his is wife- who is going through this for the second time. His daughter, who lost her father. And Justin's parents, uncles, aunts, cousins; I just couldn't stop crying for them.
"I'm so sorry Justin," I said. "You shouldn't' be comforting me right now...it should be the other way around..."
"Of course I should...and this is why I love you, Ashley," Justin said. "Thinking of my family like this...you are the most compassionate and empathic person I know."
The last time I saw Grandpa was on Saturday morning. He was in terrible pain and it took every ounce of strength in his body to simply breathe. Yet, when he saw Justin and I- he recognized us. He asked us about our move. And chimed in during our conservation. And when Alice broke down crying, he looked over at her with the most loving eyes and smiled from his soul- without saying it, I knew by his look that he was telling her not to worry....everything will be okay.
When we left, I reached down and grabbed his hand. His hands were so soft and cold...I kissed him on the forehead and said, "I love you Grandpa. Get better."
He looked up at me and took a giant breathe and said,"Better, or worse."
I sensed that he just knew...I can only hope that he was in peace during his last few days. In my heart, I believe his spirit passed on before his heart stopped beating. And I think he is watching over my shoulder as I type this blog. But that's my faith coming into play. God has given me another angel to watch over me while I venture through this life of mine...
For Justin's family, I love you tremendously. I'm so sorry about your loss of an incredible husband, wonderful father, loving grandpa, and beautiful soul.