I knew he was sick long before he even had an inkling of it. I would sit across the room from him finding myself staring at him, his head making the slightest movements that only I could see. When we would talk and I would look into his eyes I could see it, he was sick, he was going to die. I always had this overwhelming sadness as if the grieving process had already started even though he was alive and sitting in front of me. I told others what I believed and they looked at me as if I were crazy. 2 years go by and the feelings do not pass, finding it more difficult to visit him.
What I always new in my mind came true on a cold winter day, he had cancer. I wasn’t surprised and found myself not any more grief stricken then I had been for the past 2 years, maybe because I had already come to terms with it. He had always been there for me, that smiling face and warm presence in my life since birth. I would sit up late nights with my newborn son trying to make myself outwardly grieve but I couldn’t. I couldn’t force this grief I had carried for 2 years inside me out of my body. Would I live forever with this pain I felt? Would I ever be able to bring these emotions to the surface? I wished for it each night before sending myself into dream land.
I packed my newborn son up and got into the car to make the trip down to see him, knowing at any moment could be his last. I pulled into his driveway and walked through the door waiting to hear that friendly hello and see that smile I looked forward to during my visits, but there was nothing. A heavy weight pulled at my heart, this is how it would be going forward, a void were happiness once lived. I laid my son down in the living room and made my way to his bedroom, preparing myself for the worst. Building up my strength to show him I was a strong person as he taught me to be.
There he was in the fetal position laying on his bed, you could see the pain pouring from his eyes. He managed to say hello to me and I stood there trying to find something to say to him that would make him feel better but nothing came to me, my mind was blank. I still remember everything that came from his lips. He told me that he wished he was feeling better so that he could visit with me and my son. I told him that just being here was enough for me and I would let him rest. Then he lifted his head slightly towards me and said “I love you”, I said it back and told him I would see him again soon. I was searching my memory to remember a time that he had said those words to me, ‘I love you’. I realized I had never heard them before from him. The tone of his voice and those words would be forever what I would keep close to my heart. I always knew he loved me and I have never been someone who needed to hear them from someone. I believe you feel those words by the actions of the other person and I always felt loved by him, without a doubt.
This would be the last time I would see him alive. I received the call one warm spring day while on my way to a family reunion. I had just parked the car and was about to join the festivities, I instead put my car in reverse and raced to his home. It was over, all the memories of the past 22 years raced through my mind, though I still could not let those emotions from the past 2 years exit my body. I stood in the other room avoiding seeing his lifeless body. Others went in to pay their last respects but I did not, I couldn’t, I didn’t want that to be how we said our goodbyes.
The funeral was a beautiful elaborate Catholic celebration of his life. I was amazed at how many people he had touched with his warm and caring personality. I had never seen so many people at a funeral before. I lost track of the number of people who came up to me and shared their stories of him. I can’t even remember the bible verse I read during the ceremony because at that moment my body let go and released all the emotions it had held in for the past two years. I am not even sure the people at the ceremony knew what the words were coming from my lips. ‘This is it’ I thought to myself, what I knew for the past 22 years, what I had felt for the past 22 years was over. I would never again see that smiling proud face nor feel that warm presence of love that filled the room he was in.
I would forever carry a void in that special place I held him for all those years in my heart, for no one would or could ever fill that spot that was made especially for him, my Grandfather.