Before she moved out of the home they always lived in, when I’d visit Boss Lady (what we’ve always affectionately called my paternal grandmother), after greeting, I’d make a bee-line for the front hall closet, open the door, and breathe in the remnants of what was left.
Leather. Old Spice. Freshly mowed lawn. Him.
Oh, how I miss him.
When he passed in our driveway from a silent heart attack on Christmas Day, there became a rift in my life. A before; an after.
Coincidence that my check engine light came on while en-route to the hospital where they pronounced him dead? Well.
There he was, laid out and still and I held his hand until it went cold. I felt the heat drift away and I felt an obligation to feel it. To feel the life parting from him.
And I promised him, to what was left of him, to be the best version of myself I could be.
Oh, how I’ve failed him and that promise since.
In that driveway, I kissed him upon the cheek, gave him water, and told him I loved him before he went to the hospital and what a gift it was to be able to share and say that to him in his last moments. How does one ever really know?
He was the first person who I lost who meant the world to me, who always made me feel special and valued and someone of importance. He always wanted to sit next to me in church and at the Thanksgiving table…”Where is Nic sitting? Put me there.”
He taught me what love can look like and without him I wouldn’t know what’s possible today.
I’m grateful for those moments at the end and that I was there to hold his hand until the life drifted away.
Bereavement never gets easier, it just gets more familiar.