This morning I woke up with a sour taste in my mouth. I rolled on my side and looked on the floor for the bottles that must be there. I looked and looked and didn’t see them. It wasn’t a dream, it wasn’t a nightmare. My grandfather had died, that was the reality.
So I rolled onto my back and stared at the ceiling. I wasn’t thinking about any one particular thing at all, just let my thoughts drift where they may. So many memories of the moments I spent with my grandfather and of the conversations we had.
A short time later I was on the phone delivering the news to more relatives. More tears, more cries asking me to say that it wasn’t true and more sharing of grief. Again I felt like the angel of death. Maybe I wasn’t administering it but I was the messenger and that had its own share of challenges.
My uncle shouldn’t have had to hear that he had lost his brother by telephone, but we don’t live in a small town world. And so I created a new memory. If I close my eyes I can hear his silent sobs into the telephone and the whispers of regret.
Later I told my children about the loss of their grandfather. My daughter just went about her business, that is the way two-year-olds are and I didn’t mind. In a way it was refreshing, but my son had lots of questions and plenty of tears.
He understands that he is gone but doesn’t quite understand why and I can’t give him all the answers that I want to. For the first time in a while he asked if I was going to die and I nodded my head. For a moment his lip quivered and then he asked if I thought that it would be soon and I told him no.
He asked if there was a way to avoid death and I again said no. I don’t lie about these things. I don’t give him more information than he needs either.
And then came the pictures, the videos and more memories. I shared many of the stories with him, but not all. Some will wait until he grows old enough to hear them and then we’ll bring grandpa back to life.
That is what I told him. I said that as long as people remember you than you never really die. Stories bring our friends and loved ones back to life. They show up for a brief visit and then go away again.
They may not be here in the fashion we want but that is a part of life.
A number of years ago my grandfather and I discussed death. I remember him telling me that he would keep fighting for every breath until he was done fighting and then he’d fight some more. I told him that I appreciated that.
He smiled and said to remember that every man has their limit. At some point we decide that we are satisfied and then we just let go. It was accompanied by a brief, mischievious smile and then it was gone.
I am not done writing about my grandfather. I don’t think that I have really tapped into my own pain yet, but I am trying to. All you can do is take life one day at a time and within that day you do the best that you can.
Here is what I know for certain. The pain of his loss is an indication of just how much we loved him and we loved him an awful lot.
In time the sting will become less painful and I’ll be able to focus more closely on the lessons he taught. My grandfather was quite an interesting man. More to come about him on a different day.