Sunday, March 2, 2008

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal

Twenty years ago today, you drew your last breath.

It was anti-climactic.

I was not there.

I didn’t want to be there.

I couldn’t watch you anymore.

You were out of your head – literally.

Not the man who introduced me to Dairy Queen Blizzards.

Or Colby cheese from The Mouse House.

Or who smoked cigars with the funny-gypsy-looking lady on the box.

Over a very short period of time, you became something that we are all afraid of becoming.

A man trapped inside a body which is physically disabled and cognitively empty.

I know you know that’s why I couldn’t be near you then.

Gosh. Even today, when I stop to write and acknowledge this event which happened half my life ago - the grief comes - floats up from some place not that far away.

How can that be?

I'm still so very angry - at you - at God - at my mom, my dad, my aunts, my friends, my grandma - at the world. I'm angry with myself for not appreciating you as much as I should have. For not soaking in as much of your wisdom and your everyday goodness.

The aching pain in my heart knows no bounds. Although I'm really good at containing it. Squeezing it into a teeny, tiny corner, hiding it from the world so that they don't realize that twenty years later, your absence still affects me like this.

I tried to save you the best I knew how.

All the memories come flooding back to me - Paranoia. Forgetfulness. Short-temper. Falling. Napping. Not making it to the bathroom on time.

Me coming home from working one of my many jobs and grandma telling me that you were at the hospital because you had fallen.

That was two months after I stopped telling people that you were sick. No one believed me. Or maybe I should say, no one wanted to believe me.

Your diagnosis came quickly. The day of surgery is still as clear as day for me. Dr. Kashman came out and said that the tumor was big, cancerous, and deadly. I ran around to the first hall I could find and I sobbed uncontrollably. Noooooooooooooooooooo. I couldn't lose you - the only stable, male role-mode/figure in my life.

And it was SO unfair. And I was tired of life being SO unfair.

My last meaningful conversation with you wasn't meant to be so meaningful.

I didn't think you were lucid. You were plenty doped up. To me, you were already gone. Which is why I just broke down and confessed to you how much I loved you and how broken my heart was and how angry I was and how I didn't believe in God anymore.

Shakily, you grabbed my hand when I wasn't noticing and you said - I don't ever want to hear you say that you don't believe in God.

My tears stopped for just a moment and I searched your eyes - was that really you talking to me?

I lay my head on your chest and you touched my hair. I listened to you fall asleep and I knew that this was the last time that you and I would ever talk as grandfather and granddaughter.

Where the Sidewalk Ends
by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.


joe said...

One word: WOW