Hello all. Can’t sleep. Just got home from work a couple of hours ago, so of course here it is nearly 5am and I’m all hyped up. Nice. Anyhow, as I was driving home, I was looking at this little laminated photo I have of my grandfather sitting on the dash of my car–and so I couldn’t help but start to think about him. It’ll be 13 years this July that he’s been gone, but I still miss him. I just wish he was here, you know? I know it’s the reality of things–death and all that–but still, I feel cheated out of so much. As did he, for that matter. It just doesn’t seem fair. But then, of course, there’s little in this world that is.
I was only 9 or 10 when he was diagnosed with cancer. I forget the specific type at the moment, but it was a rare and very aggressive blood cancer. Naturally, I was too young at the time to really understand what it all meant and what was happening. All I knew was that he was really sick. It didn’t register that he was dying. But he was. I remember that it was horrible. And that he gave a good fight. Which he did. So very much so. I remember the frequent doctor visits and the various hospital stays–especially towards the end. I remember him looking so exhausted and just plain run-down that there were times he looked as if he didn’t even have the strength to stand. He must have been in excruciating pain, but he refused to show it. He was too proud for that.
Despite it all, he was there. Every game, concert–everything–he was there. No matter what. He was selfless like that. He loved us grand-kids more than anything–something he proved time and time again. There’s one memory in particular that I recall every time I think of him. It was about a couple of weeks before my 12th birthday and before he died. At the time, Beanie Babies were pretty popular. I was an avid collector and so I’d buy them all the time. That is, my grandfather would buy them for me. Including the exclusive ones that were always the hardest ones to find. Somehow, he’d find them and surprise me with them. When he heard that there was going to be a sort-of Beanie Baby trade show at this local vendor, he decided to take me. When we got there, the line was rediculous and stretched for what seemed like miles–a couple at least–around the length of the building. Instead of saying ixnay to that, he insisted we stay. And so we did. We stood in that line for hours. All day, in fact. Which wasn’t at all good for his circulation, but he did it anyway. And when it was finally our time, he was absolutely thrilled when he bought me those exclusive Beanies we’d waited forever for. For him, it was all about my happiness. Along with everyone else’s. Never his. Since it wasn’t too long after that that he died, I blamed myself–thinking that making him stand in that line all that time had contributed to his death in some way.
I remember the night he died as clearly as if were yesterday. It was horrible. I remember it was really late when my grandmother got the call to come quick to the hospital. So she got us all in the car and we went up. I remember that it was raining so hard and that she was driving really fast to get that. I remember that there was this dead silence the entire way there and that my grandmother just had tears streaming down her face. I remember how scary and sad it was when we got there and had to walk down this long hallway to his room. Everyone was there–my aunts and uncle and cousins–and we all just piled into that one room to say our goodbyes. He was barely hanging on and just barely conscious. I remember standing back a little, terrified of how intense the atmosphere in the room was. I remember my grandmother nudging me forward and telling me to say goodbye to him and to give him a hug. He was so pale and looked so different that I was scared to even do that. And when it was over, I remember just feeling numb. Everyone around me was crying but I wasn’t. I didn’t cry. Not that day anyway. I cried after though. A lot.
When I get to thinking about him these days, it’s all just so bittersweet. On the one hand, I know and I’m happy that he’s not suffering anymore, but on the other–I miss him. I wish he was here. I can’t help but wonder where he’d be today if he were still alive. How things would be. While I’m not entirely certain whether there’s a heaven or hell, I still like to think that he’s still here somehow–that he’s still watching. Which makes me wonder whether he’d be proud or not of the woman that I’ve become. There’s so much that he wasn’t and won’t be able to see. He wasn’t there for my high school graduation or for when I got accepted into an Ivy League school or to see all that I’ve accomplished. He never met his great-grandchildren–which he would have loved and absolutely adored like crazy I think. Growing up, he was the only real father figure my siblings and I had–what with my father having remarried, moving out-of-state, and starting another family that didn’t inclus us kids much if at all. Because of that, I always pictured of having him–my grandfather–walking me down the aisle and my wedding and giving me away. Him, not my father–HIM. It just seemed right, I guess. How it should be. And the fact that he won’t be here to do that–well, it hurts. More than I can ever put into words.
He’s gone, so all I can do is try to live a life that he and I can be proud of I guess.
So here’s to you Papa. I love and miss you XOXO
This song says it all:
ARTIST: Kenny Chesney
TRACK: “Who You’d Be Today”
Sunny days seem to hurt the most.
I wear the pain like a heavy coat.
I feel you everywhere I go.
I see your smile, I see your face,
I hear you laughin’ in the rain.
I still can’t believe you’re gone.
And it ain’t fair: you died too young,
Like the story that had just begun,
But death tore the pages all away.
God knows how I miss you,
All the hell that I’ve been through,
Just knowin’ no-one could take your place.
And sometimes I wonder,
Who’d you be today?
The only thing that gives me hope,
Is I know I’ll see you again some day.
Some day, some day, some day.