When I was a little girl (think elementary school) I really didn't like myself. I had become an extreme tomboy. I always felt so awkward and out of place. I desperately wanted to be accepted and involved but most of the time felt incredibly lonely. I knew my parents loved me, of course, and I knew- despite their actions sometimes- that my siblings...didn't hate me. But as one of seven (at the time) children, and as a legitimately awkward child in a large school I often passed through days and months at a time where I felt completely invisible. I craved recognition of any kind and often embarrassed myself just so I could feel like someone was looking at me. I felt ugly. I felt unwanted. I felt alone.
I remember when I was in 4th grade. It had
been a particularly difficult few weeks at school but it was finally
Christmas break and I could surround myself with family members who were
together for the holiday. And at the same time I knew that I would
still feel invisible, lost in a sea of relatives. Every year we go
caroling as a family. It is a beloved and honored tradition. As I stood
in the very back of the group in front of the first house, I was
overwhelmed with sadness and loneliness. I couldn't push my way through
the adults to where my cousins were, and no one even seemed to notice
that I wasn't there. I remember closing my eyes and starting to cry as
we sang "O Come All Ye Faithful". And I remember being startled and
jumping as an arm slid across my shoulders and pulled me tight. I opened
my eyes to see my Grandpa smiling and looking down at me, singing with
all his heart. He sang the rest of the verse while looking into my eyes .
And I remember feeling seen.
Every year after that,
Grandpa and I caroled together. House after house he would always find
me in the crowd and we sang every song either arm in arm, or with his
arm around me, or sometimes even holding hands.
My Grandpa Packard passed away just a few hours ago. I
have to admit that I am fighting feelings of sadness and even a little bit
of anger. Spencer and I are in China, and I haven't had the chance to
see Grandpa for almost a year. The last time I saw him, Grandpa promised
me that he would still be there when I got back. He promised. And while
I knew that he might not be able to keep that promise, at this point I
really thought that I would be seeing him again. We will be in Utah in
just over two weeks. We had already made plans to drive to South
Carolina via Utah so we could see him. I already bought him a present
also angry at myself. I feel like I robbed myself of opportunities to
spend time with Grandpa and Grandma when I had the chance. I had lived so near but rarely
taken the time to be with them, and I feel ashamed and guilty.
But Grandpa wouldn't want me to be sad. He wouldn't want me to feel angry, or ashamed, or guilty.
My grandpa lived life to the fullest. He believed in living and loving passionately. He was a wonderful, happy, twinkly man who touched every life he came in contact with. He sang like an angel, laughed like a little boy, and loved like his life depended on it. And he knew that life did not end after death. He knew that some day he would meet his Father in Heaven, and he lived for that moment.
I love you so incredibly much and I will miss you terribly. I know that you lived an
amazing life full of adventure, love, and dedicated service. And I know that you still have a work to do. I
am so grateful for your lifelong testimony of the gospel of our loving
Heavenly Father and your Savior, Jesus Christ and I know that you are in
His loving arms once again. I will see you again, and I will make you so proud.