On March 19th 2012 my Grandfather(the only one I have ever known) died. He went peacefully in his sleep not screaming like everyone else in the car. Sorry. I always liked that joke. He did go peacefully. The interesting thing is that I went and visited him on the 13th of March to say my goodbyes because it was apparent that he was not long for this world. When I saw him he was non-responsive, just twitching a little when I held his hand, talked to him and kissed his forehead before I left. Death is hard.
I am fortunate to have not encountered a lot of death in my lifetime. My Grandmother died when I was young and while I remember my parents picking me up from school and going to Burlington for the funeral I don’t remember much else. I remember walking out of the church and walking around the block with my dad. Not sure if I ever thanked my dad for that… Thanks Dad!! Other then that I haven’t known very many people that have died. Which is a good thing. The problem is that I am learning how to mourn.
I have dealt with a lot of near death medical things. Everything Sarah went through was pretty intense and I did think about what I would do if she were to die (mostly move to chicago to live with Harper and become very very goth). I also have dealt with my dad having open heart surgery, brain surgery and there was one May where we were pretty sure he had had a stroke. So I have worried about death a lot.
My Grandpa was an amazing person. He was a pharmicist for most of the time I knew him. He had a store WB Drug that was the first stop when we would go visit. We would walk into the store, head to the left and grab a candy bar, then head across the store and say hi and give him a hug before heading to his house. I remember when I had grown my hair out and he offered me $100 to cut it off. I took it. I remember cutting my toe at Bonnie Dam and going back to his house where he gave me some drug that made the pain go away and made me sleep. I remember sneaking upstairs on Christmas morning to try and catch Santa. I remember family gatherings at Christmas time.
One year Harper and I rode in the parade of lights on a tandem bike. One of our pants got caught in the chain at one point and I also remember the chain coming off the bike. Another time I went to his birthday party and did a strip tease for him in drag… don’t ask. Another time Sarah and I went down to burlington to visit. When I went to hug him Grandpa pushed my arms aside and said I don’t want to hug you, I want to hug her. He also asked Sarah if something was wrong with her since she was following me around.
What has made this so hard for me is the waiting for him to die. I am old enough now to understand that life is not an infinite resource. That we all have ‘x’ amount of time on the earth before we die. It is simple biology. I said my goodbyes and then experienced a block. I couldn’t mourn for him since he wasn’t dead. I had almost a whole week where I only broke down once. I still haven;t really cried since I learned that he was dead. I am waiting for that shoe to drop.
Mourning is so hard because you don’t know how to do it correctly. Because there is no correct way. The fact that I tear up when I leave my house to go do normal things seems to be my way of handling it. It makes it a little weird when I get places with tears standing in my eyes… like the grocery store to buy some cookies or 7-11 to get a slurpee. I am not used to this controlled release of emotion and it weirds me out. I am used to breaking down and crying like a boss. I am used to calling Harper when something happens and giving him 5 minutes of babbling word crying that he can’t understand. Instead I am totally chill. I feel sad, during the day when I am alone, but I don’t feel emotional.
Here is why. My grandpa wasn’t battling cancer, he didn’t have a stroke, he didn’t die of some weird illness. He died of being old. He lived his life how he wanted and his body and mind agreed that it was time. He was done living. He didn’t want to live anymore and his body agreed. So it shut down. And honestly that is the way it should be. No one should have to fight illness only to die. I hope that everyone I know gets to die of old age.
I love you Grandpa.