Mourning, pain and grief are not emotions that I don’t have experience with. I’ve experienced more of these than most my age in the past year and a half alone, and today is no exception. Today I said goodbye to you, the final, tear-ridden goodbye that I never had a chance to give my dad. In fact, saying goodbye was just as hard because you have been my second father.
Ever since I can remember, I have spent countless hours at your house, annoying you with my questions and pestering you with my mood swings, but you still loved me through it all. You spent countless hours watching my sister and me at dance and poms competitions, never once complaining. You spent countless weekends cheering my brother and me on from the sidelines of whatever sport we were playing at the time and never once complained of a missed Packer game. You were always there, a silent presence emitting unconditional love and support. No matter what it was, even something as minuscule as a middle school choir concert, you never failed to miss a single event in my life. How you managed to do this, I don’t know. It must have been some of your mighty ba-ba-ba-Batman skills. :)
When dad passed, you promised us to be a father just as he was. And now I know why he always spoke so highly of you as a parent, you were an impeccable one. If he learned anything from you it was how to be a great father. I’m sure he will be excited to have you by his side once again, in a happier, more peaceful place. I’ve had some amazing times with you. From our games of chess to our games of “love taps”, there was never a dull moment when I was with you. I’ve already decided that that’s going to be how I remember you. When I think of you, my head will fill with memories of our jokes and my heart will fill with love, smiles and laughter. While it won’t be easy, the knowledge that you are at peace and reunited with my father is more than enough to get me through the bad times.
For the first time this past weekend, I saw you as a cancer patient. Not as a living, breathing, fighting human, but as a patient. I didn’t see my grandpa fighting lung cancer, instead I saw a stranger. I saw a fragile, tired man, nothing like the man I have come to know as my grandpa. That was what the hardest part of this process was. I saw the loss of your identity and that’s when I knew. That exact moment is when I knew why you chose to stop treatments, why you chose to be at peace. You were taking control. For once it wasn’t the cancer determining your fate, it was you and I admire that. While I wish it never even happened, I have never been in more awe of you than now. You are one of the bravest souls I have ever met, grandpa. You had the ability to look cancer in the eye and say try me, and you put up a hell of a fight throughout the first cancer and now this lung cancer. I thought that was brave, to have the courage to fight not one, but two of the most threatening types of illnesses. But this, facing death without apprehension, without fear of the unknown, that is true bravery. As humans we have an innate fear of death, doing everything in our power to avoid death prematurely, or even death at all. However, you defied all odds when you accepted your fate. You came to peace with death and that – that is awe inspiring, grandpa.
I will remember your bravery. I will remember the grin on your face as I jokingly called you by the name of “Peachy” when your hair first started growing back from chemo because it was as soft as peach fuzz. I will remember the stories of how you got the name Batman and Chippy. I will smile when I remember how you don’t like Chipotle (pronounced Chi-pot-el) because they put beans in your burrito. I will laugh when I remember the way you used to imitate grandma when she called your name, but I will recall how evident your love for her was throughout the 55 years you guys shared together. I will never forget how you shaped me into the person I am today, and if I am anything like you at all, I am one lucky girl.
So grandpa, I hope that wherever you are, you are with my dad and you two are fishing for the biggest bass you can find (although I do hope you give him a good talking to and booty kicking). Please do send my love to him. I know that you are in good hands with him and that I am in good hands with both of you as guardian angels. I know that you will watch over me and our family, and I have never felt safer in this world than I do at this point.
This isn’t a goodbye because I live with the hope that I will see you and my daddy again one day, it’s what keeps me going on my hardest days. So, for now, it’s goodnight grandpa. I hope you have found peace in your new life and I look forward to seeing it one day, but for now, I’ll pray to you and dad every night.