I am usually a very happy person. I am very optimistic and am just kind of excited to be alive. I always have energy and can seem to find the good in everything. I think that is part of why I make friends so easily, but this post is not that. If you are looking for something super happy and exciting I would suggest one of my other posts. I usually keep things pretty light here, but this is something I need to get out. Maybe this is just for me. Maybe this is just helping me process emotions, but I hope that I can turn something rather dark into a message of hope.
My Grandpa died a little over a month ago. This was the first time I have had to deal with death. Now I have known people that have died. My Mom’s best friend died when I was too young to understand the pain. I have lost pets, but nothing compares to all of the emotions I felt.
I grew up around my grandparents. They lived only 15 minutes from my house, so they were always around. I have all sorts of great memories at their house. I used to stay over when I was younger. I loved every second spent with my Nana and Papa. I looked up to them in every aspect of my life. They definitely lived a different life than anything I could possibly imagine. I have heard some stories from their childhood, but never a ton. There is definitely a great deal of pain in their past. I think they wanted to shield me from that. As I grew they were always there for me. They were always glad to have me over for dinner and they came to most of my swim meets in High School. Towards the end of High School my home life frustrated me. Looking back it was really just dumb stuff. My brother got on my nerves, I didn’t want to listen to my parents, you know, the usual teenage boy stuff. When I was frustrated. When I wanted nothing more than to scream I could call them and they always had the right words to calm me down.
My Grandparents were also spiritual mentors to me. I grew up in the Church, but that doesn’t always mean anything. What had the most impact on me was my Grandma’s dedication to her faith. She inspires me to own my faith. To ask good questions. To make God a priority. She has a wealth of knowledge about the Bible and that is a great resource. My Papa had a quiet faith. He was always involved in the Church (At least as long as I have been alive). He was definitely a pillar of that church. While he was never quite as vocal about his faith, I could always tell where his heart was.
I was walking through the main classroom building at Cleveland State. I had just gotten off work when my Mom texted me. “Are you able to come home tonight or tomorrow? Do you have exams?” When I got these texts I was really scared. What could have happened? I knew that my Grandpa had been hospitalized for a lung condition, but I had just talked to him two days ago on the phone. We talked for about 20 minutes. He was glad to be feeling better, but was still stuck in the hospital with not a lot to do. He was getting antsy and they didn’t have a release date set yet. He said he hoped to be out for Christmas. A part of me knew when I got those texts it was my Grandpa. My heart sunk. I prayed that it wouldn’t be him, but then I got the call from my Dad. He arranged to pick me up after my exam later that evening and take me to see my Grandpa in the hospital. He wasn’t looking good. My brother then texted me and gave me the real devastating news. They were removing his breathing support tomorrow.
I became a stone. I had no clue how to react. How was I supposed to act? Was I supposed to cry? Was I supposed to stay strong? Who knows, but I still had a final exam to take in two hours. I went and talked to one of my friends who lost her Grandpa that semester as well. I still was not sure how to feel. I ended up mostly avoiding the subject. I think I hoped that if I ignored it then it would go away. I went and took the exam and then made it back to my apartment to grab a couple things to take with me. I had a little extra time, so I ended up playing the guitar some. That was when it began to hit me. Tomorrow my Grandpa, My Papa, will be gone. Forever. I will never talk to him again. I will never see him again. I will never share a meal or crack a joke with him again. He will be gone. I cried. I played guitar and cried. That’s all I could do. That’s all I knew how to do.
The car ride to the hospital seemed to take forever. My Dad was like me. He didn’t know how to react. We agreed that it sucked, but didn’t talk about it much. We talked about everything else but my Grandpa. When I got to the hospital we took what may have been the longest walk of my life. The hallway to the ICU wound and weaved, but I felt like I was walking on the moon. I was on a foreign planet. I didn’t know how to feel.
When I got to the room I set my stuff down and gave my Papa a huge hug. He was hooked up to several machines. He had a mask on to help him breathe. I sat down on the chair next to him and we began to talk. We talked about all sorts of things. He was excited to see me. By the time I had gotten there it was about 9 pm. Since sleeping had been hard he was tired, but he made sure to stay awake until I got there. He wanted me to know that he loved me very much and was proud of me. We talked for about an hour. We talked about golf (He loved golf). We talked about memories of my childhood. We joked and laughed together. A few guests stopped by and we talked with them as well. One was his best friend and we talked about some of the shenanigans that they pulled at their weekly Chili’s visits. I let them talk and took my Grandma for a short walk. I asked how she was. I think she was like me. She didn’t know how to feel. She was in shock. Before we made it back to the room I gave her a letter that I had written before I left campus. We went back to the room and I sat down again. I knew that I had to leave soon. Papa had to rest. He was obviously tired.
That last 10 minutes there will always stick in my mind. I held his hand, slightly swollen from being bedridden for so long. He again told me how much he loved me. He said he was proud of me. He made me promise to take care of my Nana. He said he would miss me. That may have been when it really sunk in. I think that when I saw the tears fall down my Grandpa’s face that something inside me broke. I cried. No, I sobbed. I handed him my journal and asked him to write me a note. Something I could keep forever. This is what he wrote: “Love You. Always go with God. With all my love, Papa.”
As I left the room. I looked back and told him “I’ll see you soon.” He responded with the same and that is what I cling to. One day I will see him again. He is much happier now, but when he left he left a hole. That hole can never be filled. All I can do is look to the future with excitement, just as he would encourage me to do.
I know this post has not been like normal. It was on the longer side and it was pretty dark, but isn’t that life. If I could give you one thing to take away from this it would be to take my Papa’s advice: Always go with God.