On Loss and Mourning

Last night, after a couple of lengthy and very cathartic conversations with two incredibly different and yet equally strong and compelling women, I broke down and wept.

Earlier that evening, I was unpacking one of the waterproof bins into which I had stowed my valuables in anticipation of Irma— among them, autographed copies of various books given to me by authors over the years, my more extravagant and beautiful fountain pens, and my grandfather’s ashes in a tiny stainless steel urn that I keep in my Craftbrary among my many books (where he would want to be, frankly). His tiny bone fragments rattled in the urn as I placed it back in its honored spot among my tomes.

There I was, hours later, weeping and composing the September 14th scrapbook haiku in the image above. Why? I don’t know, but these conversations dredged up a deep longing for my grandfather and his patient and loving face. I wanted to hug him and cry on his shoulder in a way I hadn’t wanted—needed, really—in almost a decade, him being more than twelve years passed.

He and my grandmother were married from the time she was 19 and he was 23 (don’t quote me on that) until he died at 85. To his dying day, she was his love, his Ro. And the impossibility of that life for myself hit me like a ton of bricks last night. I would never have someone in my life so incredibly and profoundly committed to me, and the unbearable weight of that realization crashed down around me. I don’t know if it’s because they just don’t make people like they used to. I miss you Papa. I miss everything you were, flaws, feats, and fearless love of life, your wife, and your family. When did we all become so scared to love? Who did this to us? Who chipped away at our worth until we walk this earth carrying more full baggage than empty containers open and willing to accept love from each other?

I don’t know, but my heart aches for it, and my eyes streamed tears thinking about what the world lost when he passed, what I lost, and what my grandmother lost. And yet, having his love was the real gift, and I know that.

I’m a secular humanist, so in my heart, I know that no one is looking down on us loving us from a distance, but it’s a daydream even us non-theists invite in on a cold night after a devastating week of destruction, after trying to set down the baggage and unpack it, in those lonely depth of our homes when all love has failed us. I miss you Pop. I hope I’m wrong, and that you’re wrapping your arms around me from the next world and comforting me even if I can’t feel it.

You’ll never really leave me so long as I remember you, but even that memory is painful today. Good luck and godspeed, everyone.

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