In an hour or so, I’ll be heading up to Virginia for a few days. This is not a planned vacation/family visit. My grandfather passed away Tuesday morning, and despite my mom’s insistence that there’s “nothing to do,” I’m going home. There won’t be a funeral or memorial service, but I want to be there.
I’ve been waiting for that phone call for about a month now, prepared for it even longer. Poppy’s health had been declining for a while. I had hoped to go up there before he died to see him, but it didn’t work out. For the best, probably. He was only intermittently aware of his surroundings and the people who came to visit. He might not have known I was there, and it might have been much harder for me to see him like that than I think. He was 84. It was time.
Despite the trazodone, I wasn’t sleeping well Monday night. I woke up around one when it started raining hard, and it wasn’t easy getting back to sleep. Then the phone rang at quarter to three. I didn’t answer it, of course. I was half asleep. But I knew what it was. Most of the time, phone calls at bizarre hours are wrong numbers. Logically, I had no reason to think this was any different. My mom tends to call my cell phone since we tend to not answer the land line. By the time it stopped ringing, I was awake enough to try to convince myself to get up, check the messages, check my cell phone in case she tried to call that first, because I knew what the message was and knew I wouldn’t sleep if I didn’t either get the news or discover it was a wrong number. But I didn’t get out of bed. Somehow I fell asleep again. When I checked my cell phone as I was getting ready for work, no missed calls, no messages. But I wasn’t completely convinced. I didn’t check the land line for messages. My mom, as it turns out, isn’t even sure she left a message.
She called while I was at work, and of course, when I see her number pop up in the middle of the afternoon, I know what it is. I left work. Like I would have gotten anything done after that anyway.
I worked yesterday. Somehow. It was busy, so that helped cut out thinking time. It was still weird. People say weird things when you lose someone. Not that I haven’t said those same weird things. I’ve always felt strange on the delivery side of that kind of sympathy. I think it’s more the language of it than the emotion. You say to someone, “I’m sorry for your loss.” How can you be? You didn’t know my loved one. His death means little to you. But it’s expected that you’ll offer that condolence. It’s rote. It’s like saying good morning. What’s worse is, “Let me know if I can do anything.” Yeah, bring him back with complete mental clarity, give me time to say in person I love you, good bye, then simply let him fall asleep knowing he’s loved, knowing we’ll all be okay and that life was good and death is just the natural conclusion. Of course, I can’t say that. I say thanks, I’m okay. I appreciate the sentiment, but there’s a massive disconnect between the words and the situation. But I’m probably over thinking it because I’m me and that’s what I do.
This is the first time since I left home in 1997 that I’ve made this trip solo. It’s going to be weird. It’s going to be hard. But it’s also going to be good. My nieces and nephew were at my mom’s house when I called her Tuesday night. They cheered when she told them I was coming. How can I not smile at that?