If I could send a letter to my Papa Sam in heaven, this is what I would write to him…
Well we just returned from spending New Years with the family in Nebraska! What a wonderful time. It was great to see all the 5 “original” Huston siblings all together, and many of their family members too. Grandma Barb is doing well – what a matriarch! 🙂 You’d be proud of her; she’s a strong woman and she’s pressing on. She misses you, bad, for sure! But Christ is her all, and she’s pressed in to him and keeps pouring out to others. She may be a widow, but her life is full. She says she’s made some bad decisions without you, but I say if getting DirectTV is the worst decision she makes on her own, she’s doing pretty well!
It all feels different without you, though. Walking into the house I want to see you there, off to my left. In your chair, watching Fox News, getting up to greet me in your happy old-man way. I want to hear your voice and see you smile and hear you tell me you’re so happy to see me. I want you to meet your great-grandchildren and hold them too. I think you’d really really love them. Kaya is loud and silly and full of life. I remember talking with you just months before her birth about how we’d spell her name and pronounce it (“like ‘kayak’ without the ‘k’!”). Hudson’s a serious little man with a bright smile. He studies people and hates being startled. I think he’ll be a big and strong man, with blue eyes like you.
Breakfast is different too. We have the same pancakes and sausage and juice, so lovingly prepared by Grandma Barb, the “sergeant” of the house. We eat at the same table with the same orange place mats. But I want you to be there, looking over your morning paper and talking with us about life and current events, saying “Barbara, get these kids some…!” and then looking back at me, “Breakfast is the best meal of the day, you know.”
One afternoon my dad took me to see your stone in the cemetery. It’s right by baby Joe’s. I’d never seen it. I couldn’t come to your funeral that wintry January day, when the roads were icy and I was a week from my due date to give birth to my first child. He talks about you a lot. I love every story, every memory, every line he quotes that you said to him. He loves you and is thankful for you in a million ways. Nineteen days after you died he became “Papa” too. I am thankful that even though Kaya and Hudson will have to wait to meet you, they will have a wonderful Papa just like I did…and they will hear a lot about you too! 🙂
Your absence felt so painful, until one night the front room was packed with people. Uncle Jay and Uncle Sid and my dad all talking and laughing loud. Grandma Barb cracking up and bringing others to tears while playing a game. Joe and Sam talking sports, as always. Kaya dancing around, delighting people and being delighted by them. It was happy. We were whole. Even though another sat in your chair, we were together. The spirit of Christ was so present, and for just a moment I felt so full and happy. I wondered if it is His presence that I’ve missed so painfully – for He was always present with us, with you.
It’s been two years now that we’ve been separated from you by all that separates those living on earth from those living in heaven. When two or more are gathered and Christ is there, you don’t feel so far away either.
And when we left for home, I missed you bad. I wished you were there to pray with us and check the oil and hug us and wave goodbye. But Grandma Barb was there, doing all of it, still loving us and missing you.
I love you, Papa Sam! I am so happy you are with our Lord.
See you soon.