I’m a bundle of nervous energy. Tomorrow, they’re laying my grandfather to rest. It’s been an intense couple of days. Finalizing and going over funeral plans, trying to find an outfit, and generally preparing ourselves for the big day. His death was sudden, expected—he’d fallen ill. However, he’d been in and out of the hospital for months. We’d heard talks of hospice care, but even then, I was expecting to visit him, a conscious him, and chat until he’d gone in his sleep. That’s not what happened. Instead, he went into cardiac arrest, the respirator sustaining him long enough for goodbyes. We live an hour and a half away from the hospital, driving there with the GPS as our guide, trying not to freak out. All we knew was that we should go there that night. I thought he’d make it to see another day. He always made it to see another day.
The atmosphere was like in the movies, the next of kin in the waiting room area. I was surrounded by cousins, aunts, stepbrother’s nephews, and everyone in between, none of whom I met before. It was weird, getting off the elevators to hugs. Why were they hugging me? I thought I was just coming to visit Papa. I was led closer to the ICU by the family matriarch, who informed us he’d died two minutes earlier. Doctors had been working on him for 30 minutes with no results. I broke down in the hallway, where I was comforted by a supposed great aunt. Hers was a touch unfamiliar to me, so I sought refuge in a quiet hug with my brother.
Closure meant seeing the body, and I wanted to support my mom if anything. I went in. He looked so peaceful. Sleep. I kept expecting him to wake up and hit us with some witty joke. Grandpa always had a witty joke and response, a mile-wide smile, and deep dimples. I went to touch his hands, although he’d just passed, they were so cold. Very cold. I realized in that moment just how much he looked like my mother, just how much he meant to me, and just how truly unprepared I was to deal with his death.
So, I found the blue dress. They want us to wear his favorite color, also mine, one of the similarities we shared. I’m hoping my hair comes out decent. I’m also preparing something quick and concise to say. We’re all expected to speak. All the preparation in the world won’t matter—I’m hurting and I’m not sure if I have it in me to say anything. I just know that this has all been a lot. I keep trying to emotionally detach myself from this situation as I approach a new semester, but I’m genuinely sad. I don’t want them to lower my grandfather into his grave. That will mean he’s really done. It’s final, a finality that I’m just not sure I can handle right now. ♦