This past weekend, I attended my grandfather's funeral. He lived a long, beautiful life and while he was in constant pain from years of sickness, the idea that he is finally out of pain and in heaven sits well with my family and me.
My entire family lives in South Florida so I don't see them as often as I would like to. And although this wasn't the most ideal family reunion, it was still comforting to be in each other's company.
Besides the fact that I was attending the funeral of my grandfather, it was also the very first funeral I had ever attended. Because of this, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Sure, I've heard of how funerals are from other people and have seen them on TV, but I wasn't sure how I was going to take it. I wasn't sure of the emotions I would feel, the way the melancholy energy in the room would impact me, or how I would go about the grieving process.
Overall, the main things I got out of my grandfather's funeral were lessons, which is exactly how he would have wanted it.
My grandpa would fit a lesson in with almost every story he told my cousins and I. From the importance of saving money to choosing the person you're going to marry one day, the wise words of my grandpa will stick with me forever.
During the service, my dad and his siblings spoke about their father. They gave a timeline of the most significant moments in his life. And while I was listening to my dad and my aunts and uncles speak, I realized there was a lot of things I never knew about my grandpa.
I always knew he was a veteran, but not the details about what his position was or what war he fought in. I always knew he was a hard worker his whole life, but not to the extent in which I learned during that service. I always knew he was a family man, but the stories being told about him validated that even more.
And what I took from this was - why wait to learn about someone when they pass when you can learn while they're still here?
Our time on this earth with the ones we love is so precious that we should cherish every moment we have with them. There are so many imperative moments and memories in my grandpa's life that I could have discussed with him while he was still here. I just found out about them too late.
Another thing I learned from this whole experience is how powerful the love of family can be.
My family on just my dad's side consists of 20 people. In other words, my grandma and grandpa are the foundation of a huge, strong, beautiful family. But when one of the main pieces of a foundation is no longer there, the support and comfort of family are there to pick up the pieces and strengthen each other even more.
As sad and hard as it was to attend my grandfather's funeral, I was able to take some lessons out of it which is exactly what he would have wanted.