|"You know better than I. You know the way."|
Today was the day of my grandma's funeral (as if you couldn't tell from the title), and while I'm glad it's over, it's a surreal feeling, too. Maybe it's just the night settling down around me, or maybe the fact that all of my grandparents really are gone is beginning to sink in. We passed by their old neighborhood on the way to the cemetery, and I found myself turning my head in that direction and half-expecting them to still be at their house.
No one knows what's going to happen to the house right now. One of my uncles has taken charge of it, and the place, given how old it is (it's been in the family for at least 50 years), is in serious need of some remodeling. My side of the family is planning to take at least some of the furniture, like one of the couches, since our old couch (thanks to my younger siblings) is completely wrecked.
The funeral itself was nice, as far as funerals go.
It was both nice and surreal to see the family again after only 18 days; that's got to be a new record. There was an even bigger turnout for Grandma, since some of the family couldn't quite make it to Grandpa's funeral; one of my cousins and his family had been on a cruise at the time.
It's also surreal to know that both my grandparents died on holidays. Grandpa died on Father's Day, and Grandma died on the Fourth of July. Given how patriotic Grandma had always been (she was really big on politics and the Constitution and stuff like that), we commented how it was oddly fitting that she should pass away on Independence Day. It even gives a new meaning to the words: "Independence Day."
Like I said, the funeral itself was nice; it provided some closure, my work was nice enough to give me the day off, and it's gratifying to know Grandma is no longer suffering, that she and Grandpa didn't have to be separated for long, and that Dad was there to greet them (I hope).
Still, it's hard to let go. It's hard to accept the fact that both sets of grandparents on both sides are gone, that one more chapter in my life has closed.
Like Dad, Grandma and Grandpa were the kind of people you just naturally expected to always be there. But even if they were still living, it was only downhill from here. Both of them were so old, so weak, so sick, and in so much pain. I felt like we were in the movie Old Yeller, when Old Yeller is infected with rabies, and Travis's mother brings the gun and solemnly proclaims, "There's no hope for him now. He's suffering." And even though Travis knows it's the right thing to do, you can still see his hands shaking and the tears swimming in his eyes as he pulls the trigger.
That's how it is for me. It's wrong of me to wish Grandma and Grandpa were still here. Death was a mercy for them both, and they had been married for more than 70 years (it would have been 71 in November), so it was only fitting that they only spent a short time apart.
Besides, they get to be where Dad is now, and they're reunited with all the rest of their family on the other side.
But I still miss them.
Mom misses them both something awful. They were her foundation pretty much all her life, and even more so after Dad passed away. She still has her siblings and a few good friends, and me, but it's not the same, for obvious reasons.
It's just hard to be left behind. I imagine them going into another room and the door closes, and I'm still on the other side of that door.
This really brings my own mortality into sharp focus, too. I never really thought about dying old or young, and while I do hope I live to a decent age, and I get to accomplish certain goals first, no one really knows how long they'll live and that's kind of what makes life so special in the first place.
You just have to make the most of what time you do have, and make the most of the people while they're there.
I tell myself that over and over, but it still hurts and that slightly cold dread still creeps over me. I suppose that's a normal feeling, too.
This is the price we pay for love, and it's well worth the price.
I'll see you later, Grandma, however later that is, and be sure to give Dad and Grandpa extra hugs and kisses for me.
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