Sometimes the best moments in life happen when you need them the most .
For my readers that know me in real life
You know this year has been a sh*tty one for me . One. Big . Flaming . PileOfSh*t. Between my own health struggles and losing loved ones , I was over the new year and it was only four months deep.
My Grampa passed away at 92 years old on March 1st , the day before my son’s 8th birthday . He actually passed away at home as we were in the middle of my son’s pool party the next town over . I had been waiting in line at the front desk to pay when I glanced at my phone and saw the text from my dad. We had all been bracing ourselves for the inevitable for a long time , but it was like a freight train none the less . The day before (Friday) my aunt , who had been staying with my Grampa , called my dad . Grampa had been asking for him . It was 7:15 am and Grampa never asks for anything . Ever. Apparently Grampa wanted my dad to go through the obituaries to make sure he wasn’t in them . That’s like something out of a bad made for TV lifetime special . That’s not something that happened in real life . Except it did .
Later that day my dad said grampa’s time would probably be soon . I forgot where I was or what I was doing , I didn’t know if I should drop everything and go see him . Immediately . If you ever have to ask your self this – unequivocally the answer will always be yes . This isn’t a time capsule , tevo , Back To The Future version of real life . you do not , can not , and will not ever get those moments back.
I do not know why , maybe it was because we had visited him the week prior and it was emotionally draining for me to see him actively dying , maybe I thought that he had hung on this long that he would be okay for our visit on our son’s birthday – two days later . We didn’t . Half of me hurts from not going that day , half of me knows my decision was deliberate because my last memory of him alive was him on a good day , playing with my kids , feeding them jelly beans and asking us to pick up Lego’s for our son’s birthday gift for him.
I’m going to let you in on something , you can take it or leave it and I don’t really care if you believe in it or not because I’m the one who lives it every single day since I was old enough to be aware of my surroundings . I’m an Empath . The emotional sponge who takes on the burdens and energies of those around me , I’m affected by my surroundings , I constantly have déjà vu , I read people like books , I know things I couldn’t possibly know , I have dreams that reveal future happenings – although often the time frame or involved can be non specific or out of order , it’s often pieced together after the fact . I’ve learned to listen to my intuition . I’m not a clairvoyant , I’m not a fortune teller , I don’t read tarot cards or auras and I don’t see dead people . I live by and follow my heart . It can be a heavy burden , there are days I want to turn it off . As I get older and I realize that I’m not suppose to have all the answers , it gets a little bit more manageable .
Having an ailing loved one and being an Empath is an exhausting and borderline intolerable combination . I honestly don’t know how I’m still married . I carried around the heaviness of loss before he was gone and started distancing myself in my own dysfunctional way of trying to lessen the pain – since I was going to be consumed with everyone else’s anyways . I shopped the toy store for the requested Lego’s knowing this was the last gift my son would be receiving from my Grampa . I watched him open it knowing that my Grampa was already gone – before even receiving the news. I waited in line at the front desk – on the day he died – with an air of impatience . I was in a hurry to show him how much my son loved his gift , I wanted my son to show him all the cool things he could build . I wanted him to sit at the kitchen table with him , and having been a contractor for over 60 years , build the most amazing tower that my son’s little 8 year old imagination had ever seen .
– sorry . I got something in my eye . The light ? I know it’s midnight . Damn it .
You can’t ” hurry up” or ” rewind ” life , there’s no takesy-backsies.
My sister and brother in law were god sends and took the kids home (we waited a few days after the fact to tell them , we didn’t want our son’s birthday to forever be tainted for him ) so my husband and I could say good bye . He had a rough morning and the hospice nurse had given him enough morphine to make him comfortable . He went peacefully in his sleep shortly there after , and for the first time in probably a decade , pain free. He was in one of those hospital beds in his bedroom , one that looked like it was out of Better Homes and Gardens , painted a nice sage green , built in drawers , three spacious closets, built in three sided vanity and sliding glass doors that opened up onto the master bedroom porch. If you wanted a room with a view , this was it . Fabulously kept yard with a small stable that was converted into his buisness/ shop out building . There had been a full sized pool with patio that had been filled in 15 years earlier after the liner went . The giant Elm that had once lived there was long gone after it got some form of tree STD . As kids we use to climb about 10 feet up and “hide” , desperately waiting for new bird families to take up residence in the hand crafted and diligently painted bird houses . We were sh*tty bird spies , it probably would’ve helped if we waited longer then 10 minutes and didn’t scream every time some kind of flying insect came in our vicinity .
Sorry – back to the saying good bye part : Grampa was laying in bed, his perfectly parted wavy hair was not done , I knew as soon as I stepped in the doorway he was gone , I didn’t need to look at him to see that . I felt like I was wading through cement , I felt like the air had been sucked out of my chest , it was like slow motion – except in fast forward – if that even makes sense . I guess I had hoped that I could feel like some part of him was still there , as if he was going to hold on just for me so I could say good bye . He lived life on his terms and this wasn’t going to be any different , he wanted to go , he was ready to go . He wasn’t going to wait for anyone and after everything he’d been through , the man deserved peace.
I smoothed the waves in his hair – something I adored and was so jealous of – something he claimed he never liked , and placed my cheek on his head . I glanced at his chest and would’ve sworn I saw him breathing .
My husband said that sometimes your eyes see what your heart feels .
As I lifted my cheek , I looked down on my Grampa for the last time . I noticed that he was glancing in the direction of my grandmother’s wedding portrait .
Twenty years had passed since she lost her battle with cancer . She had been a heavy smoker of Newports since she was 13 years old . She was the youngest of five (?) first generation Portuguese farmers . Back then cigarettes were pretty much vitamins , the best medical advice doled out was ” if it hurts don’t do it” and most injuries would heal with in 2 weeks, and hospitals were places people went to die. She always had her hair curled , make up done , red lipstick , pant suits and gold jewelry. She and my grandfather did not have one of those timeless relationships that romance authors pined for , but as time went on after her passing more and more of her framed photos started to surface in my grandfathers home .
Since his passing 6 weeks ago not only have I been struggling , but my 8 year old son has too.
I was raised in a house where emotions weren’t really acknowledged , discussed or allowed – my parents weren’t giant a-holes or anything – emotions were just a foreign concept and not something openly dealt with . This is incredibly problematic for an empath . So imagine my daily inner turmoil ‘ emotions ?!?! The f*ck am I suppose to do with these?!?!’ .
My son has his mother’s soul , he is an empath that takes on the energy and emotion in every ounce of that little body . He is the most loving and caring child I have ever met and his heart is hurting . Since my grandfathers death he has gone to bed on a pretty consistent basis with a heavy heart , crying that he missed his great Grampa . I’d do the whole stoic parent thing , wipe his tears and give him the old ” Grampa isn’t in pain anymore blah blah blah …” Line . That line sucks . You know how I know that line sucks ? Because he kept going to bed sad and knew that was bullshit.
My son taught me that as a parent you don’t always have to be right , you don’t have to have all the answers , you just have to be sincere . I wasn’t being sincere bc I kept trying to pacify him until such time I could find the “right” words to help heal his heart . Tonight he came in to say goodnight and I went to give him a hug . His head was down , his shoulders were slumped and his bottom lip was curled .
I asked if he missed great Grampa . He burst into tears . I was in bed and slid over so he could curl up under my arm as I wiped his tears and scratched his head . I started with my generic ” I miss him too pal “. Then I stopped searching for what I thought I was supposed to say and just spoke from my heart – I felt out loud . Something I don’t think I’ve ever done .
I told him that Grampa had been sick for a long time , he knew that he didn’t have a lot of time left and that he wasn’t scared . This seemed to help , the not being scared part , because being scared is something kids could understand and with death being really confusing for them , the assurance of being scared not being in the equation helped big time . I went on talking about a lot of memories I had , funny stories and little random Grampa factoids – like how he would eat oysters right out of the shell , it didn’t matter what time if day it was . Now my son and I are proud followers . He started remembering things that brought a smile to his face and by the end of our little memory session , managed to stir up some giggles .
We are going to work on our “active memory” , doing things to help keep the memories alive and weirdo traditions going . My little soul twin helped me help him , and together we can navigate our path to healing .
The last picture I have with my son & my Grampa . Tractor rides with great Grampa were absolutely with out a doubt my son’s most prized memory .<