Feb. 14th, 2016

bunnymcfoo: (for the increase of hope)
My cousin texted me last night "Death is weird". And she's not wrong, death is so weird - and so is grief. She sent me that text around midnight and at five twenty our grandfather died.

We'd known this was coming, and I will be forever grateful that we were able to bring him home to die, that he didn't die in a hospital or care facility, and that he had people who loved him there in his last hours.

Death is weird, but grief is weirder.

My grandfather didn't like me very much, for most of my life. I was okay in his books until I was around 3, and then that was it, I was the symbol of my mother -- look, it was complicated and fraught, but when I was 16 he screamed in my face that I'd destroyed my mother's life by being conceived. That was what he thought of me, and it hurt. God, it hurt, because I just really desperately wanted my grandpa to love me. I spent so much time as a small thing wondering what I'd done wrong to make him distant and cold. Because it must have been me, right?

Eventually I came to terms with it. It wasn't me, it was him. We settled into a relationship of cordial dislike and I assumed that when he died I'd be pretty whatever about it and just here to support my mom.

But then, well, I got something akin to a Christmas miracle last year. Or a pre-Christmas miracle? I don't know. Sometime around September he decided I was alright, actually, and he told mom that he wanted me to know how valued I was in the family - that's literally the closest I can ever remember him getting to "I love you", but god, GOD, I felt like someone had suckerpunched me when she told me that. The little girl I carry around inside of me sort of uncurled a little and got hopeful, and the adult bits of me, the cynical bits, well. I didn't trust it. I spent the last five months waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I spent quite a lot of time with Grandpa in the last month. I shifted into taking him to doctors appointments and cooking him breakfast, since he didn't want to eat, and generally trying to make myself useful. I was the one who called 9-1-1 when he fell the first time in the last cycle. And weirdly, the last few weeks have been pretty great in a super horrible way. I could see that other shoe dropping, and it was his incredibly rapid decline in health and his death coming towards us faster and faster every day.

(As pathetic as it might sound, he told me a few days ago that I'm remarkably competent and I felt like I'd won the lottery. There were very few qualities in a person that he valued more than competency.)

My grandpa died this morning at 5:20 and I can't stop crying. If you'd told me a year ago - hell, six months ago - that I'd react this way, I'd have rolled my eyes and told you that you were deluded. But here we are. He started being a grandfather to me in the ways I spent so much time dreaming of as a little girl and now he's gone. I'm so grateful to have had this time, this sea change, but good god, this hurts.

But my grandfather valued competency and practicality and toughness, so I'mma buck up buttercup and go do the thing that I know will be the biggest and most supportive thing I can possibly do for my mother right now: I'm going to go clean the kitchen. I might be crying, but those dishes will be done.

and I'll say this here, because I need to:

I loved you a lot Grandpa. I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough to be there when you passed, but the last thing I said to you was that we all loved you and I stand by that. I'm so glad you aren't in pain anymore, and I hope that if we're both wrong and there is an afterlife that yours includes loads of lemon meringue pie and all the top shelf whisky you could ever want. I promise to take care of Mom, so you don't have to worry about that. <3

Ernest Kent Clark
September 8, 1922 - February 14, 2016

Semper Fi


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