‘My grandfather passed away two weeks ago. I was out of town at the time but we knew it was coming. He was eighty-two years old and he’d been diagnosed with cancer in January. He decided to fight it with chemotherapy and a lot of us didn’t know that that was the right decision. That’s because the chemotherapy wiped him out. He went from being a health, strong man, even with the cancer and turned into a shadow of himself. He lost his hair and his muscle mass and his brain was on chemicals so he couldn’t think clearly anymore.
At one point, his doctors told him he had about two weeks to live and, four weeks later, he passed. When that happened, I wasn’t surprised and yet I was surprised that I wasn’t sad. I wondered if that was the right way to feel because I’d never had anyone close to me pass away. You’d think, being part of the human experience, it wouldn’t be that big a deal but it was. I just felt like I should have been mourning but I wasn’t, even though I had a great relationship with my grandfather.
The hardest part was watching my mom go through it. My grandfather was her father and I was really proud of how she was handling it. She had a lot of outer emotional strength but I could tell that, on the inside, she was struggling with all of it. At the viewing, my mom stood by the casket and looked at her dad and I could see the sorrow in her eyes. I walked up to her and gave her a hug on the side and she asked me, ‘how do you deal with death? Are you doing OK?’ And I told her the truth…I wasn’t OK. It wasn’t easy because of what I was watching her go through. That was harder than the actual mourning.
She then told me, ‘I love you, honey,’ and she gave me this long, loving embrace. I hadn’t had a really tight hug like that in a very long time. That’s when I realized that I do have a lot of love in my soul…for my mother, for my grandfather, and for my family. The death of my grandfather helped me to knock down the emotional wall and to realize that it was OK to feel what I was feeling. I’ll always miss my grandpa but I think that experience with my mom was what made everything fall into place.’