My grandfather died just before I was to be married. He was sick, very, very sick. I didn’t see him just before he went, but when my mother told me he looked like a different person then, I was glad I only had the memory of a big, burly man to hold on to.
I love(d) my grandfather, as I love the rest of my immediate family; but the truth is, we rarely see each other. As a child, there were more gatherings, more visits, even dinner at someone’s home. Then things faded to holidays, and when I moved out, to nothing. Phone calls are rare now, except to say “Happy Birthday” or “I’m so sorry”; the “necessities”. And then, there’s barely that. At my grandfather’s funeral, the photo collage by the front door included a picture of me on his lap, young and plump. Nothing within the past…ten years or so.
We headed to a cigar bar after, for food and drinks and cigarettes. I’ve quit smoking, but I bummed one from my mother. It felt okay to indulge after the stiffness of the morning. As our shoulders loosened we shared stories. I smiled, laughed, and then I considered how each story I played a part in happened before I ever knew who I was. I was just a child. A silly, moody child that said all the wrong things, still scolded for making mistakes. Every scenario my aunt recounted involved a time she’d been babysitting while my parents were out with friends. She was still calling me “kiddo”. If I saw more of these people in the present, would they realize I hadn’t been frozen in time as a forever-twelve-year-old? The Jack Daniels in my hand and cigarette in my lips wasn’t enough to break the image.
Maybe I’m digging too far into things. Or maybe, just maybe I’m onto something. Now that I am twenty-five, a full-fledged adult with a husband and a house, I realize my part in it all. Communication needs two outlets to work, and I’ve come to realize mine needs some rewiring. But then, so does the other side’s.
Life is too short; taking nothing for granted; cherish your loved ones; etc., etc. All of this is true. But who takes the initiative? Me, perhaps, since I’m the one considering it all, here. But when you’ve been hurt, do you bother? I’m good at holding grudges. (Not a specialty I am necessarily proud of.) While there is a lot of love in my family, there is also a lot of hurt. Every family can relate to this.
My grandfather died just before I was married. Death happened, mourning happened, recovery began. Several people once close to me – still closest to him – were invited. None came. Fine. This is the hardest of times.
None acknowledged. Not then, not now, will not, likely, ever. I am hurt. Am I selfish? I don’t know. But I will not feel bad for feeling hurt. The time of calling for the “necessities” has come to a solid, grim end. Death happens, we hurt, we heal, life never stops.
So now I slink backward into my hole and think, every day, about whether or not I am right, about what it all means. I don’t even wish to be right, I just want to know why things are how they are. Is this love? If we don’t celebrate our milestones, then how do we define this dynamic? I want reason. I shimmy back and forth between anger and sadness, all the while not doing a damn thing about it. Not speaking out, not making an effort to yell, to ask “how are you?”. For me, now, it’s pointless.
Some who may get a hold of these words may be upset by them. But then, if they are, they’ll only feel that way if they were the ones who ignored the most important day of my life. I’ve never posted something I was afraid of. I didn’t need an audience – a man died, an important man, death shadowed everything, how can one celebrate a new life when one had only just come to an end? But words – so important. One word makes all the difference. Congratulations. Instead, nothing.
There may be some form of love there, but still, we go on in damaged silence.