The Moment

9:51 PM

Just a vague attempt at digesting/processing what's going through my head right now.

The Moment

It’s the moment when your personal alarm clock touches your shoulder at six in the morning with the news. Although the bedroom is bathed in darkness, and cluttered with everything you meant to pick up off the floor twenty-four hours ago, your mind makes the jerky jump from sleep to wakefulness and pulls your head away from its home on the pillow. It wills your legs over the edge of the bed and pulls you out, stumbling, towards some kind of light.

It’s the moment when Grandma walks through the door, cheeks sagging, eyes dull, and shoulders slumped. The sight makes you recall her words two days earlier – “I’m fine, just as long as people don’t start trying to console me.” The ache inside of you is sudden, fierce, burning intensely, making you wish you were eight years old again and that just a hug from her could make the worst hurts disappear. But she’s the one who needs a hug from you, and even then you know that her pain can only be dulled. Nothing you do can make it disappear.

It’s the moment where you stand in the doorway, look across the bedroom, and see the empty hospital bed with rumpled sheets shoved against the wall. Any second now, you feel like Grandpa should be coming out from some hidden crevice, armed with that mischievous grin and twinkling eyes, ready to make that duck quacking sound you always giggled at when you were a child. But he never does.

It’s the moment when you walk past the casket in the viewing room towards the floral arrangements, and stop at the one from your aunts and uncles. You peer down into its depths to see the black flashlight he always carried with him, turn your gaze back towards the gray casket for just a moment, and the tears start to slide down your cheeks for the ninth day in a row. All you can manage is a whisper – “His flashlight” as your younger sister’s arm slides around your shoulder for support and the two of you follow the line heading out. As you go, you hear your grandmother’s words of five minutes before. “I’m fine, just as long as people don’t start talking about it.”

It’s the moment when you realize Grandpa is gone.

Update (8/24/2013): I've written a follow-up to this piece that you can read here

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