It doesn't matter how long it's been or whether or not you had "prepared" for the day to come. There is no way to prepare for the loss of someone who means so much to you. Grandparents are your built in second set of parents. Just like with your mom and dad, you build your future around them being there. You never wonder if they'll see you graduate, get married, have children, you just assume they'll be there, until they're not.

I was lucky enough to grow up one mile from my maternal grandparents' house and spend nearly every day of my childhood with my grandpa and grandma (who I had the honor of calling Bob-Bob and Dutchie). Day after day memories were made that have shaped me into the person I am today.

As I grew up, every awards show, every performance, sports game, accomplishment, they were there. I can still hear the bird call whistle Bob-Bob would do to let me know he was cheering me on. I would listen hard and wait to hear it to know he was there if I couldn't see him, and you don't think about not hearing it until you listen for it and it never comes.

Nearly four years ago my family lost Bob-Bob. The best father, father-in-law, brother, friend, and to me, grandpa, that anyone could ask for. With his loss the entire town was devastated, truly revealing what a unique soul he was despite what life has thrown his way. I still get told by people he'd encounter how he raved about how wonderful his grandchildren were and how much he loved us.

There are no words to express how special I felt to say he was my Bob-Bob. I was the only girl in the world to say he was my grandfather, something I am so proud of. And even if he isn't physically here, I still am his little girl and I will always find pieces of him within me. And while maybe there's some concerning aspects of being too similar to him, it keeps Bob-Bob with me forever in a way that no one can ever take from me.

The day God took him, I was angry. I was the only grandchild he didn't see graduate high school. He was never going to make that bird call whistle when they called my name to receive my diploma. It wasn't fair. Why would this happen?

By the time I graduated, two years later, I felt differently. I knew he was there. He was whistling when they called my name. He was also there for my honor societies, my sports games, my college visits. He might not be here but he is here. I'll see him at my college graduation, my wedding, and he'll watch my kids grow up the same way he watched me.

A grandparent is usually the first real encounter with death that anyone experiences and while they lived a long, full life, it still doesn't make sense why they had to go. Eventually you learn there was a reason they were needed on the other side.

It wasn't until I was diagnosed with brain cancer that I understood why he was needed. I always thought we needed him here more until I needed someone to hold my hand during treatments where I had to be "alone". Thanks to Bob-Bob I never had to really be by myself. He's still here now, holding my hand for every appointment, every treatment, and telling me that I'm going to be okay (even if he can only tell me in my dreams).

The world is cruel and countless times I've cried over how unfair life can be, but I've learned when it's someone's time to go, it doesn't mean goodbye. I still see him, I still hear him, and I know I'm not the only one. My family is lucky to have had a foundation like him. Now we're all pieces of him scattered to make the world a better place like he did every day of his life. I would say your three boys along with myself will always do our best to make you proud, but it doesn't matter what we do, I know you're proud regardless.

We'll always love you, Bob-Bob, no matter where you are.