He saved her cup.
It’s been nearly 20 years, but he still has her cup.
That’s hard to say, and even harder to think about. But it’s true.
This past year at Christmas, as I was writing everyone’s names on their red Solo cups (we’re so fancy) my grandpa pulled me aside with a grin and said, “Hey. I have something to show you.”
Then, smiling, he reached up into the very top of a corner cabinet and pulled out a cup.
It was hers. Her name was still on it.
His smile fading, he told me “I dug it out of the trash after everyone left. Her last Christmas.”
I think he knew. He knew that Christmas would be her last. That it would be the last time the love of his life celebrated Christmas with her kids and grandkids.
But, sometimes, we don’t know.
Sometimes we don’t know if that last Thanksgiving will be the last one we see with those we treasure most.
Sometimes we don’t know if that birthday meal, or text message, or graduation party will be the last one we spend with a friend.
We don’t always know when the last is.
Any loss is hard. Whether we know it’s coming, or we don’t. It hurts. It changes us. It leaves knots in our stomachs and pain in our hearts. For years.
It is heartbreaking knowing the last is near. And it is also heartbreaking to never see it coming.
And while I don’t believe we should live in fear of the future, I do believe we should live in joy of the present.
That we should make the most of the opportunity each day brings.
That we should show up to those family Christmases or to a friends birthday.
That we should celebrate with our people when they graduate or have a baby.
That we should be there for a friend in a time of loss.
That we should make sure to send that text or make that call.
So show up. Be there. Live joyfully. Give thanks for the time you have with the ones you love most.
Not because we are afraid, but because we are grateful.
And because we truly never know when the last will be.
This post originally appeared on My House Full of Boys
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