I thought a lot about my grandfather this weekend.
It started when I was driving back home with Megan after spending a day around the city, getting fresh ink and new body jewelry, and having brunch with new friends. We were talking about how the numbers two and seven are a huge part of my life, and I told her about my grandparents, especially my grandfather. (My grandmother was born on February 7, 1942; my grandfather was born July 22, 1937 and died February 27, 2007.) It was sort of wonderful, to reminisce about the way that the numbers that once followed him throughout his life have started to follow me. It makes me feel like he’s always with me, and the thought is comforting.
And then there’s today. I was driving back from Brookfield Zoo with Megan this afternoon, and somehow we got to talking about superstitions after she reflexively crossed herself while I drove past a cemetery. So I told her about the day my grandfather died, and how I just had this feeling, this sense of urgency–this fearful certainty that he would be gone before long. And I realized that, even more than seven years later, it is still hard to think about it. It is hard to think about all the things that he was not able to see–of all the times where I have missed his presence. It is hard to think of a hypothetical wedding in my future when he is no longer here to walk me down the aisle. It is hard to remember how I didn’t understand his depression, how I couldn’t help him more–especially now that I know what it’s like to live with that monster inside your head. It is hard to remember every time that my childish annoyance and adolescent arrogance brought less-than-kind words and thoughts about him, and to him. It is hard to think of all the things I did not say, and all the thanks I did not give.
When Crystal lost her grandfather recently, I told her that it does not get any better, or any easier… not really. But you get better at dealing with it. What I didn’t say was that some days are better than others, and sometimes the pain feels just as fresh, and the loss just as acute, as it did on the way that someone said the dreaded words to you. And as I sit here, drowning in the way this has made me feel, I am reminding myself that I saw him the night before, that I said all I could say and did all I could do–that I have to let it go and forgive myself for not driving quickly enough to say goodbye when he was on the edge.
As I sit here, I have to remember to breathe and remember him as he lived.