It’s been three months and 2 days since Grandpa went home to be with Jesus. He died on Columbus Day, 2012. Martin said that just like Christopher Columbus explored the new world, Lenny was also exploring a new world: His new home; His heavenly home.
I wrote this journal entry I wrote 3 days after he passed:
“He had seemed like he was going to be okay only a week before. He had been sitting in his hospital bed, his eyes were bright and he was in a feisty mood. We all we surrounding him: Martin, Maria, Mom, Natalie, Maggie, Carley, Jenna, Jordi, Jordan, Marian, and myself. Lenny said that as soon as he was well enough to walk again, he would take us all out to a Chinese buffet for dinner. And that next summer he would rent a “12 vehicle van” and drive us all to the beach house they vacationed in a few years before. I felt my stomach drop when a week later I walked into the hospital room to find his body so frail, his hair so thin, his breathing so labored, and his skin so yellowed. He could barely speak; barely lift the crackers to his mouth. The room was uneasy. We knew that this was one of his final days. Maria had called the night before crying, telling us to come quickly if we wanted to hear his voice again and say goodbye while he was still conscious. Mom had called me after her conversation with Maria to tell me that we would be spending the next day with him. I was babysitting. I held my composure long enough to say my goodbyes, and as soon as I got into the car a wave of nausea, fear, and panic drowned me. I couldn’t catch my breath; I was hyperventilating; my heart was racing. How could this happen? He looked so healthy last I saw him; I had let myself believe that it was all going to be alright. My body became so wracked with sobs that I nearly lost the control of my car as I swerved on the highway.
I couldn’t even hold his hand. The slightest draft made him too cold, so the nurses kept him swaddled like a baby. We sat with him. We told him that we loved him. He was easily tired out, so we mostly talked with one another: trying to keep the mood of the room light. We wanted his last few days to be filled with the soothing voices of his children and grandchildren. We all tried to stay strong and hold it together. I didn’t want him to see me cry. As we left Grandma, who had went for a walk to be by herself, turned the corner and began to cry. My mom held her. I heard Grandma say between sobs, “I wish it was me. I hate seeing him suffer like this. I wish I could take his place.” It was hitting her: the realization that Grandpa was dying. That she only had maybe a few days left with her love of 57 years.
Aunt Betsy flew in that night to be with him. I went to pick her up with Mom. We drove her through the pouring rain to her mom’s home. The next morning her facebook status said how grateful she was that she was able to cry late into the night with her mom and know more fully how and why she was so in love with Len.
We spent most of Sunday at the hospital as well. Jeremy’s flight was changed to that evening. We didn’t know how much time was left. Lenny lay there in the hospital bed. We walked in and out of the room crying, weeping, hugging, and holding one another. Jenna broke my heart. She was like a deer in headlights; her eyes were brimming with tears. Hours were spent comforting each other and watching him sleep. As we left to go to lunch, Grandpa looked around at us. His voice was weak, but he spoke as loudly as he could, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” Those were the last words I heard him speak. And, oh, what precious words they were. I keep replaying that moment over and over and over in my head. I didn’t know then that it was the last time I would hear his deep voice or see his big, deep set eyes open. And I don’t ever want to forget it.
Remember him. I need to remember every detail. Remember the way that he moved his hands as he spoke: cupped and rotating forward in front of him as he would give me advice about life. Remember his deep voice: rumbling, soothing, full of care and kindness. Remember the touch of his hands on my cheeks as he would tell me how proud he is of me and how pretty and smart he thinks I am. Remember how much he cared: He more than anyone I have ever known wanted me to be happy. That was the question he would ask every time he saw me, “What have you been doing lately, how is your job. Are you happy?” And it wasn’t just an empty question. It was full of earnest love and care and desire to know me more and to see me at my best. Remember the way he danced. Remember his thick hair. Remember the way he spoke so highly and lovingly of his family. Remember how he always put the needs and wants of his family before his own. Remember how I never once heard him say a discouraging thing about anyone. Every word spoken was purposeful and meant to build people up. Remember how he supported his wife through everything. Remember how after 57 years, he loved her more and more. Remember how every kind thing did, every kind word he spoke was drenched with a Christ-like, God-honoring love. I looked at him and I saw Jesus in the way he lived his life. I have never respected anyone more than the way that I respected my Grandfather.
On Monday, I tried to go to work but I was unable to maintain my composure. Mom called and said that he was getting worse. He had been taken home the night before and hospice was there. At 11:30 I went over to his home and we all sat and waited. He was asleep, but I think he could hear us still. I hope that he could hear us tell him that we loved him, feel us stroke his face, listen to us as we relived our favorite memories….All I wanted is to know that he knew in his last few minutes beyond a doubt how deeply and completely we loved him. At 12:08 I sat down next to his bed and held and kissed his hand. At 12:13, October 8th 2012, Lenny Rosenthal’s hand went cold in mine and he went home to be with Jesus.
As I’m typing this, the tears are streaming down my face. They won’t stop. My heart has never felt so raw, so broken as it does now. Oh, Grandpa, I miss you. I miss you so very much. I hurt. All the time my heart aches. I miss you and it’s not even been a week. How could I bear this loss, this missing, this big gaping hole without the hope and confident knowledge of seeing you again? I do not say it lightly as a cliché that what a comfort it is to rest in the beauty of Jesus’s grace, the understanding of his sacrifice for us so that yes, our bodies will die. But are souls are forever. Grandpop is forever. He is forever with his King, his Creator, His Father… praising him. And, Grandpa is healed. He is no longer suffering.”
Grandma has said many times since his death that she does not have one single negative memory of him. He never said and unkind thing in his life and he never once did a selfish thing. Aunt Betsy said that that her father’s love for her was so deep and vast that she could not even begin to fathom the perfect love that her heavenly Father had for her.
Grandpa made every friend feel like family and every stranger feel like a friend. He loved his Savior and that love saturated every part of his life. Everything he did was done in love. Everything he said was full of kindness.
I miss you, Grandpa. Today the wound feels as raw as it did on October 8th. I can’t wait to see you again.