Today we are burying my grandfather.
He passed away quite suddenly towards the end of January when it is cold and icy here and the ground is too hard and too covered in snow to bury anyone really. So he was cremated and the lovely wooden box has sat at my grandmother’s since then. The service has been held.
Today we gather together as a family – his nieces and nephews, his children and grandchildren and great grand children – to lay him to rest, to say one last goodbye.
It’s been six months. It’s still surreal.
I had to tell my children in January that he was in the hospital. A few days later I had to explain to a seven year old and a five year old that their Poppa was gone. They cried but seemed to handle it all right.
After the funeral we went to the apartment for dinner and visiting. When it was time to go the kids wanted to say good-bye to Poppa. Only it wasn’t Poppa they’d seen around all day, it was his older brother.
We went to visit about a month after the funeral. My kids still call it Nana and Poppa’s apartment.
In April or so my son started crying and he set my daughter off. They missed their Poppa. Out of the blue. He must have remembered something and the missing hit him again. I told them it was all right to cry.
In June a TV show I was watching made me cry – the old man in the hospital bed looked too much like my grandfather. All of June my daughter has been missing her Poppa. She told my husband she wished she could have had one last piece of cake with him.
I can call to mind his face and his voice as clear as day in my mind. I should be able to call him up, invite myself over for lunch, and hear him say “Well, let me just check with Nana first,” before telling me to “Come on over”.
When we go to visit he should just walk out of the office and offer my kids juice and cake and their favourite TV shows.
And when it doesn’t happen I remember. Then it feels real. Then it hurts again. But sitting at home most days, it’s not real. I don’t think about him in past tense yet.
Will it feel real now?
Somehow I don’t think so.