I haven’t really experienced death all that much. My grandmother passed and my guys grandparents. But I did this week. My grandfather passed. I spent most of my life within a stone’s throw of him literally. Blocks away for most of my childhood. Then my guy and I bought our first house we were blocks away. There was just always a special fondness there.
I knew he was sick and I knew the direction it was headed. But my work allowed me to push it off to tell myself there was more time. I knew it got really bad last week. My mom encouraged me to come and see him one last time. I will be honest I refused. I couldn’t see him like that anymore. I knew too much. He wasn’t himself. I know there was judgement out there but the grandpa I remember and loved would never ever want me to see him in the manner he was in even if it was the last time I saw him.
I saw him as I will always remember him at Christmas time. He didn’t have an oxygen tank, or an adult diaper. He was not in pain. He fixed me a huge glass of instant ice tea. I am not a huge fan of instant but it taste good. Somehow he managed to be the one person who made it taste alright. We reminisced as we often have the last few times I saw him. We talked about the few years my guy and I lived down the road. We both knew that time was special.
He taught us things about being a homeowner. And when my guy was off during football or police stuff I would take my lonely self to his house hoping for my grandma’s latest meal. We would sit and talk for hours and eventually I was pregnant and he loved to put his hand on my belly and feel her. We laughed and talked about what she would be, who she would be and he was proud.
But back to that time, we talked about a lot that day. My girls were there playing in toys and he played with them too. Or tried. It was hard for him even then to breath but he never let that stop him. He wore his signature slippers and Kmart jeans with a white shirt. He joked with me about bring “that” meaning my guy. We laughed some more.
When I announced we had to leave. Before I could get up he was standing next to Kyle and I and he gave us the biggest hug. I rushed and grabbed my camera wanting to grab a picture of him and my grandma with my girls announcing, “You never know when we will get to do this again.” The ironic thing is I got into the car and knew and felt it would be the last picture I would snap. I even said so to my guy.
I would be lying if I said I would not have wanted to see him one more time. That man, he left soon after that Christmas visit. He soon found out his cancer had returned, quickly had surgery and truthfully, has slipped ever since.
So yesterday naturally at the funeral people trickle to see this body, this person, this caricature of a body that was. And they push me forward or wonder why I won’t walk up. I just can’t and won’t. It isn’t avoiding. It just isn’t my thing. That person isn’t a person anymore in the physical sense.
The sermon by the preacher reiterated my very point and family tried to use that against me to convince me walking up the do and just thing to do and maybe it was for them. By view not all that different. I know he was there yesterday. Not the body and no matter how many times I walked by the casket and looked at this man it wouldn’t ever be my grandpa again.
My grandpa was the one in the car with me pushing me to go. He was the one that gave me the courage to write a special memory that seemed to tie it all together. I so profusely did not want a public display of my grief that I could not read what I wrote and I had someone else do so. My words still echoed just the same. My grandpa kept me there in that second row snuggled in my guys arms. He helped my guy to carry his coffin to its destination. And he kept me walking when I was blind to tears.
With my life and decisions I make I try really hard to make decisions that I know I can live with. Others often don’t understand them or say hurtful things because they don’t agree with them. But that is because even though I am public here in this space, I am private in my life.
I always welcome others to talk to me about them, not attack me. I walked into that funeral yesterday with only my #1 and I heard more than one person ask me why. The whole way home I cried about the things that were said to me. But I know in reality that no one lives this life. My life. No one knows the hardships that my guy and I face and the decision to have #2 stay home was no different. And maybe some people don’t agree with what we decided, but I welcome others to ask why and I am happy to share.
More than anything I know that I am my grandfathers grand daughter because I did what he would have done and that is proceed how I saw best to proceed. No one else matters. Sure their thoughts hurt, but mostly because they never bother to educate themselves passed them. I know if they did they would understand.
So the day was sad. I am still sad. But I know it will get better.