We went to the funeral home today to put up the cremains of my grandfather. I carried the fancy velvet bag containing the box that contains him to the car. It was heavier than I expected. I put it in the back seat and wondered whether I should buckle it in. I struggle with whether to refer to the box as it or him.
And then I sat down in the front seat and cried. Because I never get to see his face again. I never get to hear his voice again. I never get to watch him watch my daughter again. I never get to tell him what’s going on in my life and know that he knows.
Suddenly this was all that was left of a great man and his great life.
I’ve only cried a few times. So little, in fact, that I felt as thought I was grieving him wrong. I loved him so dearly. He taught me so much.
But in a way we had hoped for this. The life he was living was so much less than he deserved. We wanted him to know that we were going to be okay without him. He gave us so much.
He was everything I ever could have needed him to be. More than I ever could have asked for.
And now we’ve gone through his things, and he’s just not here anymore, all of a sudden. Except when I realize that he is.
He is in all of my memories. He was there for me for my entire life. He saw me graduate, he was at my wedding, he doted on my daughter. Everything that I am is, in part, because he loved me and he was there for me. Everything that I can be is because he never stopped saying he was proud of me.
He is here in me, and in my daughter, who got to know and love him just as I did when I was a little girl. I was the one who got to introduce these two most wonderful people to each other.
She will remember him. She will understand when I tell her stories about him.
I can keep him here. With every sniff of pipe tobacco. With every time I pick up a sketch book. When we play Trivial Pursuit as a family or got on a nice drive on a sunny day and stop for ice cream. Whenever I take her to the same apple orchard or sugar bush I grew up going to.
I can keep him.