When he left us, I was at the gym, talking with an acquaintance about writing: prose, poetry, screenplays. I was struggling with bicep curls and lat pull downs. My grandpa was in my heart but I didn’t realize that was the only place he could ever live.
“Where should I send the flowers? Where are they having the wake?”
Me: “Why do they call it a wake?” Nobody is awake; at least not the person you are trying to remember. The rest of us look like we’re in a bad dream.
You try to grow up but find out that when you’re twenty-three at a funeral, you’re the youngest one. Still. Always. Still the baby. “This is my granddaughter.” “This is my daughter.” “This is my little cousin.” “This is my niece.” So I can’t help but behave like that. Cry. Cry. Refuse to deal with the situation like an adult. I try to hold back my tears but I’m not so good. “Keep strong, no one likes to see tears.” But I thought crying is okay. A way to say you’re sad.
But he’s not. He’s in a box. Cement, I think. Pretty engravings. Silver. I wonder what he’s wearing. A blue jacket, my mother said. Those shoes with the holes in it that he’d never take off? Or did they put some painful tight dress shoes that he had but never wore because they hurt his feet?
I miss my grandpa. Grandpa!
I can’t think of my grandpa in that box. Lying there. They turned the casket away so my grandma couldn’t open it. But he wasn’t in there, he’s not. I keep thinking he’s going to be in the big easy chair with the paper and channel surfing. I keep thinking of Grandpa with his Russell Stover chocolates and yelling at me for dropping their dog nine years ago. I miss my grandpa. I want him back.