.... is something I should be used to by now.
I am in Alaska this week.
This is my second visit.
The first time was back in 2007 .... with Jim and the Sons.
It was to be our last family vacation.
Jim died 6 months later.
My brother lives here and I came to be his "nurse" after he has back surgery today.
(I'm not sure why anyone would consider me to be a good care-giver .... I left home with one of the Sons sounding like he's hacking up a lung).
Anyway, being here .... walking through this home, taking my suitcase into the same bedroom we used ..... is a double-edged sword.
It's piercing my heart with the missing of Jim and yet making me grateful to have one-on-one time with my brother, which we've probably never had before.
The above picture is one of my favorites of Jim ..... as well as one of the last.
He loved Alaska.
He loved my brother and his family.
He loved how beautiful it is here (in the summer .... not so much right now) and was enjoying the view from a mountain that we were in the midst of climbing that day .... our last day here.
I wonder ..... do the "firsts" ever stop coming?
Do reminders of the "lasts" ever stop coming?
Because after 3 1/2 years ..... I'd like them to stop.
But I don't think they will.
I still have marriages ahead of me.
Daughters with no father to walk them down the aisle.
Sons with no dad to give them sage advice before their wedding day.
I, hopefully, still have grandchildren to be born.
Beautiful children who will never know the wonderful man who was their grandfather.
I still have graduations to go through ..... and one Marine boot camp graduation.
That one would have made Jim cry like a baby.
I know that I'll be crying for both of us.
All of these "firsts" are double-edged swords .... they will bring heart ache .... and joy.
I am happy again.
But it's a happiness that is many times tinged with sadness around the edges.
I'm happy to be here with my brother.
I'm grateful that I could make the time to come and help him out.
But I'm sad that these walls and this place are also reminders of one of our "lasts".
Life is full of double edged swords.