As I write this post, it is my papa’s (what I call my grandfather) birthday. When you read this post on Wednesday, yesterday will have been my papa’s birthday. Though I suppose it will always HAVE been his birthday, past tense, regardless of the day, since he died a little over three months ago.
This blog didn’t exist in December when he died, which is part of why I haven’t talked about it. Another major factor is that I am not exactly an expert in the field of handling death, and therefor I like to avoid the topic altogether. But considering the day, and the fact that I’ve become a lot more candid on this blog than I had originally intended, I will seize the opportunity.
My papa died during the first week of this past December. Causation was mostly attributed to him being 90 years old. He was not always in peak physical condition in his latter years; he had troubles with his knees and back for a while, especially leading up to his death. So in ways I expected it, and had been for some time, though I still don’t think I ever truly thought it would happen. But that Friday night when my mother texted me asking if I was home because she needed to call me, I knew. I knew before I answered the phone. I knew before she told me the news. I knew, but I didn’t entirely realize it. And to be honest, I still don’t.
It was rough. It was really, really rough. I cried a whole bunch. I spent nearly all of the next two days in bed, though not in a curled-up-in-the-corner-in-puddle-of-sorrow kind of way. I did normal things, like scrolled Facebook, painted my nails, ate crackers. I watched a LOT of Netflix, let me tell you. I wasn’t crippled with sadness, but I just didn’t feel like leaving that space to go anywhere or do anything, which in some ways may have been worse. I didn’t go home because funeral arrangements were still up in the air and nothing would likely be happening for a week, and I had an exam that Friday. Yeah, that’s right, this all happened during fall exams. So I was juggling not being at home with my family, total lack of will to do anything let alone study, and all the while trying the process the death of my grandfather.
Now, like I said, I’ve never been very good at accepting death, but what made this instance particularly hard was that the last time I saw and spoke to my papa was thanksgiving, nearly two months earlier. So even though he was gone, I couldn’t fully grasp that idea because since I live in an entirely different city, I was used to going long stretches of time without seeing him.
On a lighter note, the last time I did see my papa was lovely. I was stuck at school because of rehearsal until the Saturday evening of thanksgiving weekend, which meant I would be missing thanksgiving dinner with my parents, brother, and papa. I was really upset, but when my dad picked me up at the bus terminal, well past dinner time, he said that my papa had stayed at our house to see me. And watch the hockey game. He figured he was going to watch it anyway, so he may as well watch it at our house and be there when I got home. At the time, I was so happy, but in retrospect I am over the moon with joy that he did that. When I walked in the door, my papa brushed off my apologies for being late, and I sat down with him and we talked and watched the game for a while. I think it was the leafs, but that really isn’t the point. I wish I never had to have a “final moment” with my papa, but that was a damn good one.
And so here I sit, on what used to be his birthday, expecting to be a lot more sad than I am, considering the circumstances. But I’m not. I’m not wallowing, I’m not crying, I’m not dysfunctional, but I feel like I should be. But the thing is, even though I took a lot of time off for myself in December, I’m not sure I actually mourned his death. Okay, hold up, what does that even mean, to mourn someone’s death? The dictionary thing on my computer says: “feel or show deep sorrow or regret for someone or their death.” Well, I definitely had the sorrow thing down. But in my own definition, mourning involves subsequently accepting it and moving on. That’s where I get stuck. Because of being away at school, because of exams, and because of my lack of ability to accept serious realities, I never really allowed myself to come to terms with the fact that my papa is gone, that he no longer exists on this earth. And since I didn’t deal with it when I should have, I still haven’t dealt with it even now. I don’t know if I can even say that I miss him, because I don’t entirely realize that I have a reason to miss him. Which is really hard to admit to myself.
I never, ever think death is in any way for the better, but in the case of my papa I can see where it would have ended some suffering. His physical state wasn’t that great by the end. He had also been living without my nana, whom he loved so much, for thirteen years. My nana was a wonderful woman, most notable for her substantial teacup collection and perfectly white curly hair. She and my papa were so beautifully in love, and I know that he was hit hard when she died. My papa had confessed to my cousin a couple weeks before he died that thirteen years without nana was a long time, so knowing that he believed he could finally be with her after all this time offers some comfort to me.
Every death I have had to deal with in my life has impacted me in some way, but the reason I think my papa’s has had such an affect is that he was the last of my living grandparents. I do not have grandparents. Holy crap, I hadn’t put that in writing before that moment. I haven’t even said it out loud to anyone. I am a mere twenty years old, and I do not have grandparents. Now every time someone mentions their family and their grandparents, I feel… something. Sadness? I don’t know. But I feel it. Your grandparents are like these secondary parent figures most known for witnessing the big moments in your life, like consequential birthdays, school plays, graduations, successes, major accomplishments. Two of my grandparents died when I was six and seven, and the third when I was 15, so most of them have missed a lot of my life. I loved all of my grandparents so much. I still love them. I will never forget them, even though as I get older some memories are fading. They mean the world to me, but I wish that had all been around a lot longer for me to show them why and make them proud. It really isn’t fair.
Normally I try to end these posts on a silly note, to diffuse the tension, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to do that right now when I’m not feeling so perky. But I would like to say that writing about this has been incredibly cathartic. Like I said at the beginning, I had never expected to be so open on this blog. I’m hardly ever this open with people in real life. But there is something about writing out all of my feelings and sending them off into space that is so much more relieving that a regular old journal. And it doesn’t even matter if anyone reads it. In some ways I would prefer if no one read it. But all that aside, if any of this makes your concerned for my well being in any way, don’t be. Because this blog has helped me in ways I never expected, and I am very thankful for that, and for you for taking the time to read it.
Oh, fun fact, my papa’s house backs onto a cemetery, so my dad always says he grew up without neighbours in his backyard, but you could say he grew up with a LOT of neighbours in his backyard. Geddit? Ha ha… ha…
Well what do you know, I ended on a silly note.