The three year anniversary of my grandfather's death passed.
I have sat with this blog post open at least 10 times, wondering what to say. I have written the same sentences a hundred times, it feels like, since my grandfather died. I think of my grandfather at least once everyday, whenever I am again reminded of the loss I felt like a monumental shutter three years ago. It was like the sudden flash of a camera in the dark. It stunned me, left me wandering, blinking stars out of my eyes.
Three years without my grandfather and somedays, the grief feels as fresh and raw as the first day. As if a part of me has been cut away and has yet to scab over. I feel it as much as I feel my own arm, this appendage of grief.
For a long time, I tried to write about him, to put my feelings into words, to write about his life and make it real for other people. That's the problem with grief though: there's no way you can make it real for anyone else.
There is no way you can make a man like my grandfather exist for someone who has never met him. I can't bring is voice up through my throat; I can't explain the feeling of him being a room, his height, the way he walked, his hands with rough spots and dirty fingernails. It's not real for anyone but me.
The best way I can describe my grandfather is this: if you stand in a room full of people and close your eyes, will you be able to know who is around you? If I stood in a room with my entire family and closed my eyes and spun around, I know I would be able to find my grandfather in the dark. I always knew when he was in a room. It was something I just felt. He was a man who just created a presence.
Even now, I started tearing up writing that paragraph. It feels like there is an iron sitting on my chest. I miss him so much that it aches. I have so many things I want to be able to ask him, so many stories I want to hear. There are things I want to tell him. I wanted him at my wedding. I wanted him to meet my husband, to meet my future kids. I wanted him to be here. That is the worst part: I wasn't done with my relationship with my grandfather. I hadn't moved on. I felt like I still needed him, like my whole family still needed him.
Grief is a funny thing, but then, so is writing. I am in the business of weirdness, of quirkiness, of exploring and asking questions and talking things out. But I can't talk about my grandfather without tearing up. When people bring him up, sometimes it's like my brain shuts down out of protection; I just don't have anything to say anymore.
Except that I do.
I want to tell you that when I was little, I was afraid of him; I would hide being his green recliner chair with my brother, terrified. He would reach one gangly arm behind the chair and scoop one of us up (usually me -- my brother always sacrificed me) into his lap.
I want to tell you about the time we went to Virginia City. We were going to take a railway ride and as we sat in this open train car, my grandfather was walking up the hill in front of us. The sun was behind him, the dust was kicked up. He looked like a mirage, lit up by this magnificent light.
I want to tell you about his laugh. I want to tell you about how he always had an opinion on everything. I want to tell you about the time a creepy guy came to my house when I was home alone as a teenager and he drove up in his truck with his gun. I want to tell you about how just after I graduated college and he was sick, the first thing he said to me was how proud he was of me and how I looked like my grandmother.
I want to tell you about the man who loved me, who I loved, who my family loved and depended on. I want to tell you that not a day goes by where I don't think about him, where some memory of him is triggered and it's starting to make me smile now instead of cry.
I want to tell you all the good things. I'm tired of talking and thinking about his death, about the monumental grief that fell on a curtain. He was so much more than a man who people have grieved over, a man who was hurt and done wrong. He was my grandfather. He was a father and a husband and a friend and a brother. He was so many things. And not a day goes by where I do not miss him with every ounce of my being.