My grandpa died a few days before I left for camp. He was sick, so his death wasn’t out of the blue, but it was still rough on my family. I didn’t cry, the way I had when I experienced the death of my grandma months earlier nor did I listen to whiney music or drink lots of coffee. Being a selfish teenager, I was more concerned about myself. Would I still be able to go to camp? Would I have to fly to New Mexico right away for his funeral? I went to camp, which I was thrilled about. I had spent the last few months counting down the days until I could hop on a bus and drive an exhausting 22 hours to Crooked Creek, Colorado. My grandfather’s funeral was the first Wednesday of camp, I wasn’t there. That night at Crooked Creek all the campers laid silently in a field for twenty minutes, it was just a weird camp thing we did. As I lay staring at the millions of clear, shining stars that seemed tangible up in the Rocky Mountains; I thought of the way my mom had always told me stars were those who had passed away shining down on me. Showing me they loved and missed me. I thought of Pop, the way he was the crankiest old man ever, yet not one person had an ugly thing to say about him. The way he would shake his head at everything my grandmother said and how he’d yell “Horse-shit!” whenever they disagreed.
Before standing up from the wet grass, I saw a shooting star, the only one I’ve ever seen. I knew it was my Pop forgiving me for not being at his funeral, I began to cry.
Everyone’s camps are different; it’s an experience you’ll never understand unless you’re there. One of the millions of things that makes Younglife camp this way is ‘cabin time’ each night you talk about God and reflect on your life. That Wednesday night was the best cabin time ever, everyone was crying, and it was completely therapeutic. My friend was able to talk about her dad’s death with such composure that it made me feel ridiculous that I hadn’t really given my grandfather’s passing two thoughts. I thought how hurt my grandma must’ve been that I didn’t go to his funeral, I thought of what everyone who was at the service must’ve thought “… Why isn’t his granddaughter here?”
My tears turned into laughter, “This is silly,” I thought. If I really believed in stars the way my mother taught me to as a little girl, the way my grandmother had told her as a little girl. Then I was being dense. I just saw a shooting star, the epitome of stars. That had to mean something, it had to mean Pop didn’t care, he was glad I was having fun. So was I. When thinking back to the mountains I realize I truly believe in stars.
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