Clay is malleable. A little ball of clay soaked in water can drip a comforting slime that is cool to the touch. You can literally feel the clay waiting patiently for someone with a passion and talent to come along and mold it into that which destiny has claimed it shall be.

But when clay is dry it’s full of cracks, it can easily flake away. The red Georgia clay, that reminds me of summers with my grandmother, when dry has these deep cracks that I imagine to ants or other tiny insects look like dark cavernous holes that lead only to darkness.

Today I feel like the dry clay. Fully of cracks and flaking away. And each time I see a tear on my husband’s face or hear the crack in my sister-in-law’s voice it’s like one of those cracks is being ripped clean in two, transforming into a bleak expanse of sorrow.

Yesterday afternoon my father-in-law passed away.

I stand strong at the side of my husband as he deals with the loss of his father. I stand strong for my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law as they deal with the staggering grief. I am proud that my sweet niece had a chance to meet her Grandpa Mike and play with him, to be on the receiving end of one of his bright smiles.

And then that crack is ripped apart once more when I come face to face with the reality that my children will only know Grandpa Mike through stories and pictures. They will only see his smiles reflected on the face of their father, and their Aunt and Uncle.

I feel the flakes of the clay drifting away as I think that at least he has rejoined his younger brother who we lost barely nine months ago. I shift through those flakes as I remember playing Yahtzee, bowling and pool with him. I feel the gritty dust of those flakes against my soul as I remember each smile he flashed my way or towards his children.

It’s a rough time for my family, and that more than anything is what breaks my heart. I detest watching those I love in pain and grieving. I want to wipe away each tear and fix each pain. Instead I play with my mental ball of clay, sending out prayers and love towards those I am proud to call family.

We share our tears and memories of him and know that he is resting comfortably, making jokes with his younger brother.

We love you Mike. Requiescat in pace.