When my grandmother died I was there for my grandfather. I cried for him. I watched him break down. I saw the pain he felt and I couldn’t imagine the full extent of pain he would feel inside to lose the woman he had spent his entire life with. I made sure to be there everyday with him. I stayed in his home after her death. I didn’t want him to feel alone. When it was time to put away my grandmothers belongings my grandfather told me he wanted me “to be the first one to go through her closet.” He saw and felt how much I loved him and her. He knew I “cared the most.” I always told him he was my favorite. And I always meant it: my grandfather is my favorite.
As time went by I moved away and moved back, but saw him less and less. Not because my love faded. but because it was difficult to watch him grow so old, so quickly, in just a few years. The grandfather I remembered, the one whose rocking chair I would sit on, the one whose croissants or sweaters I would steal, the man who I would grab his little strands of hair and ask to ponytail, the family member who I “cared the most” for was slowly falling apart each day and I couldn’t bring myself to be there.
I received the phone call tonight. “You might want to come meet us here and say goodbye.” A wave of numbness came over me and I sat in shock for a second. I turned to Eric and asked “Could you watch Marlowe tonight? I have to meet my family.” Not long after I was in the room, with my family, and with my grandfather—laying on a hospital bed and struggling for a full deep breath of air. Once again, left uncertain as to what I should feel– just sad and numb and concerned for my family around him.
I stood there wearing my grandmother’s ring and purse. Two things I wear daily, because: I was there, because: I “cared the most.” I wore nothing of my grandfather, because I have not been there. I have not been there for the person I care most for. So frail. So worn. Nothing like the joyous man he used to be, but instead a man I have strayed from because of my own incapacity. His life has come, has been lived, and is quickly leaving. In these few moments he has left– have it be minutes, hours, or days I hope he finds comfort. I hope there is no pain. As his arms flail up and his closed eyes move back and forth: I hope for the best. I hope he feels no regrets and is not battling demons behind those closed eyes— I hope instead he feels euphoric. I hope he is reliving all the merry moments of his long lived life— memories of childhood and memories spent with his wife &family. I hope he knows that as a man, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather: he truly was loved. I hope that even in the time I pulled away, he knows how much I love him.