you're like grandma.
my mother says this as we drive, after she looks over at me and sees no tears, no red face.
i'm like my grandmother.
when i was 14, my great aunt adah died from breast cancer. adah and my grandmother were close. they were sisters.
we were all close to her.
i don't remember much about her memorial service, but i do know that my grandmother got up to speak. i don't remember what she said but i know that at the end, my grandmother turned her head upwards and then made a little wave. and then she smiled and said, "bye adah". and it was simple and sweet and my mother, who was next to me, lost it. my grandma looked at my mother with the sad, understanding eyes a mother has and said, "oh stephanie..."
i don't remember my grandma crying that day. i don't remember my grandmother ever crying.
when we told her about my grandfather, her husband, her partner of 74 years, she didn't cry. she grew rigid and she stared into a space for a minute, but there were no tears.
my grandfather passed away around 3am on saturday morning. i didn't get the call because my phone was on silent. but around that time i woke up and used the bathroom. and i can't help but wonder if it wasn't my bladder that awakened me...that instead it was the universe changing, something in the world shifting.
but i am often awake at 3am. so probably not. probably.
i'm four years old and i'm licking the spoon.
i'm in the kitchen with my grandma. we have just put what will become a pound cake into the oven. and i am her assistant. i get to do things like stir and lick the bowl.
that night i'll be the deliverer. i will deliver a bowl to my grandpa with a piece of pound cake and a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream. i will then get my own bowl and go sit next to him in bed. we will watch johnny carson until we fall asleep.
even now, i think of the tonight show as johnny carson's show. i was six when he retired. i was six when grandpa and i stopped watching.
my grandpa lived 102 years, 4 months, and 2 days.
the lemon pound cake at starbucks makes my mom cry now.
i didn't know, but that is the cake my grandpa would get from starbucks.
i don't like lemon.
really grandpa?! lemon?
my mom laughs.
one day, when i was super little and just beginning to speak, i randomly started calling my grandpa "shasha". no one knows where i got it from. they weren't even sure who i was talking about at first. but eventually they realized i was talking about grandpa. and soon enough the name shasha stuck.
at some point when i was older, i started just calling him grandpa. but every once and a while someone would call him shasha.
i'm not sure the last time i heard someone use it was...
but yesterday afternoon, when sitting quietly in the car, my grandma said, "well, shasha has passed on..." i looked up. it wasn't clear if she was talking to me or herself.
on monday, after spending the day in the hospital with him, i wondered if i had seen him for the last time alive.
yesterday i realized that i had been right to wonder.
it had been the last time.
yesterday i was supposed to go out and see him.
my mom and grandmother each, in their own ways, kick themselves for not seeing him on friday. for thinking we had saturday. i tell them would didn't know. we couldn't know.
i tell them despite the voices in my head.
my grandpa would say that he just wanted to make it to the next graduation.
i just want to see her graduate from preschool...
from middle school...
from high school...
from grad school...
he made all those graduations. and almost made it to the one i will have in just a few months.
when it became clear he was going to see me into adulthood, he began saying he wanted to see me get married and see my children.
i would laugh and warn him it wasn't looking good. that i wasn't sure i could make those things happen any time soon.
but, if i am honest, i imagined him at my wedding and i imagined putting my first born into his arms. and, if i am honest, i am heartbroken that he won't be there, here.
seeing my uncle cry hits me hardest. he looks like a little boy, so unsure, so sad, so lost. i take a deep breath to keep from breaking.
when i tell my boyfriend about my grandfather, he immediately pulls me in tight for a hug. i shift after a few moments, but he holds me tighter. i shift again and look at the ceiling and think and he pulls me back to him and says, you know you don't have to stop it.
what? i ask.
you can cry, you know.
he hugs me again and i feel a little bit of an opening. a tear or two leave my eyes and land on his chest. those are the only ones that fall even though i feel the weight of others.
i wonder when i became this person. i think back to therapy appointments spent dealing with the fact that even though i think of myself as an emotional person and even though i think others think of me as an emotional person, i don't express many of my emotions. i don't know when this blockage started. i don't know this person who is me. i don't know this person who doesn't cry at the times most people cry. i don't know.
i worry she is in denial.
my grandma leaves the house on saturday wearing my grandpa's shoes and his watch.
my grandpa used to carry certs around. wintergreen.
he liked frank sinatra and coca cola.
he and my grandma would go to their "office" and sit and chat. their office is mcdonalds.
he called my pup his gradson.
he used to swim all the time. in the summer, we would go to a hotel not far from where they lived and swim in the pool and stay the weekend.
i like corn flakes because he would have corn flakes. i put banana slices in my bowl of corn flakes because he would too. i put a little sugar on top. i don't think he does. or did.
i like cantaloupe and honeydew melons because he would cut one open and give me a quarter.
i wonder when it will hit me. i know it hasn't.
i expect to get a call this week. i expect him to yell at me for not calling often enough.
i expect to say i know grandpa. i know. i'll do better.
i expect him to say it has been too long since we've talked.
i expect to say i know grandpa. i know. it has been.
but the call won't come. instead there will be a service. i will hold my mother's hand.
and i expect to think
it will be too long, grandpa. it will be too long.