It was twelve years ago today that Mom told me the news I never wanted to hear. I came home after spending some time after school with my then boyfriend, and sat on the couch and looked at her. You had been in the hospital for a couple weeks and every day when I came home I would ask for an update on your condition. Through tears, she said, “Boppa passed away today.” I had known your condition was worsening, and that the likelihood of you coming home was extremely small, but a part of me really didn’t believe it. I really thought you would pull through, you had to.
Hearing those words confirming what I didn’t want to believe was heartbreaking. I sat there for a sec, half in shock and half in disbelief. I needed to be alone now, I hate crying in front of people. So I gave mom a hug and went upstairs. The rest of that evening is kind of a blur. I told my boyfriend and a few friends the news on MSN and spent the rest of the night by myself processing and crying.
I had never put much thought into the stages of grief before, I thought it was just something made up to try and make people feel better. I thought the denial phase was silly because how can you deny something that legitimately happened? But I immediately understood. I kept telling myself there was no way this was real. I was trying to figure out how it could be possible that this isn’t real. Even at the funeral, I was partially hoping you would just miraculously wake up and be ok.
I went to school the next day in a fog. I had a hard time trying to keep my composure, especially when I would talk to my teachers about the fact that I would be missing the next 2 days for the visitation and funeral.
It’s a weird thing to say, but you would have loved to have been at your visitation. The room was so full, almost crowded. Full of people who cared about you and missed you. It was really nice to see how many people admired you. I heard so many stories from your friends, and re-telling of stories from our family. These stories all proved what a kind-hearted and fun person you were. Almost every story ended in laughter. It was the perfect comic relief for such a sad event.
The next day was the funeral, which was especially hard. I was not ready to say goodbye. I wanted you to be around for so much longer. I remembered that we made a deal that you would buy me my first legal drink when I turned 19. That was less than 2 years away. I was looking forward to the following June when we would be going on our annual trip to the cottage. Laura and I missed the previous year because of exams, but that year we would have been able to go. I know in the grand scheme of things, these are small petty things to be upset about, but they mattered to me at the time. They were my reasoning for being angry. I was so angry that you were taken away from us way too soon.
Part of my anger was also feelings of guilt. I felt partially responsible for everything. You see, I had a cold at the time leading up to your surgery. You were going in for a simple surgery, that’s all it was supposed to be. So I was told to be careful not to get too close to you because you can’t get sick before the surgery. I thought I was careful, but I did spend the night at your house right before because you lived right down the street from where I worked. When I left your place that morning, I didn’t go downstairs to say goodbye. I yelled “bye Boppa” down the stairs like I often did. Later, when I found out you had had a heart attack after the surgery, I started to wonder. I wondered if you had gotten my cold, but weren’t having symptoms yet. And because I compromised your immune system, this routine surgery triggered a heart attack. What if everything was my fault?
A few weeks later, I had a dream about you. It was a weird one. I was sitting on my computer on MSN and up comes this notification saying that “Boppa has just signed in” Which was weird because you never used MSN or really any computer related stuff. In the dream we spoke, you told me you were sorry for leaving, and that you tried your hardest to stay. You told me you loved and missed me, and I woke up feeling so much more at peace. I don’t know how much I believe in the dead being able to contact the living, it’s possible that my brain made that dream up to help me cope with losing you. But I like to believe that was you.
I want to tell you that twelve years later, you are so missed and I would do anything to have you back. Everyone misses you. You brought light to a room with your smile. You brought laughter to our lives through your jokes and occasional prank. We talked about your silly fake egg prank a few times at your visitation. I really think April Fools was one of your favourite days of the year.
Every year on my birthday I remember how you always told the story about how I was born early because I wanted to meet you before you left on a trip. Mom told me that you asked her to try and wait until you got back to have me, like she can totally control that! But I decided to come early instead, just for you.
When I met Keegan, I was so bummed that you never had a chance to meet him. I really think you would have liked him, and I wish you could know that I found the one and I am happy. When we got engaged, I was sad knowing that you weren’t able to be at our wedding. And I when/if we have children, I will wish it was possible for them to meet their great grandpa.
There is so much you have missed, and so much we all wish you were around for, But I try to instead, focus on the stuff you didn’t miss. All the great memories I have of you that always make me smile. I know that not everyone gets to meet their grandparents, and I was lucky to have you for the time that I did. I am grateful for the 17 years I knew you, and the last 12 years of being able to look back and smile, knowing what a wonderful man I had as a grandfather.
You will forever be missed and remembered. <3