Recently, my wife’s grandfather passed away. He had advanced stage Alzheimer’s. I remember meeting him before we were married. There was barely a person there. He lived another 6 years. He outlived his wife while in the care center.
Tonight, my wife said, “I’m confused. I feel like I should be more broken up about my grandfather dying.” My response: “What you’re feeling is probably relief. You saw him at his worst, and are happy now that he isn’t suffering.”
She said her goodbyes years ago.
People react differently to death. My own grandmother passed away a few months ago. I wasn’t able to go to the funeral because airlines wanted $700 for a ticket. I’m still not sure how I feel about it; I definitely haven’t dealt with the reality fully. In the back of my mind, she is still living in Arizona. Until I realize that she’s not.
I still haven’t cried.
Which is strange. I cry over stupid crap. I lost water weight after every episode of Touch on FOX. Don’t get me started over the first 5 minutes of Pixar’s Up. Doesn’t my grandmother deserve tears?
It’s not that sadness isn’t there. It is. I can feel it inside; I could feel it when I spoke with her on the phone for the last time. I feel it every time I talk to my mom and my aunt. I felt it when Heather told me her grandfather died. Grief is there, but it won’t come out.
Part of me feels my grief is selfish. My grandmother was an amazing woman filled with love, faith, and charity. She was a good Irish Catholic grandmother. Why should I cry over such an amazing and good life? She lives on in my memory, and if Christianity has anything to say about the afterlife, I am pretty dang sure she is rejoicing in heaven with Jesus. If anything, I should live my life better in her memory.
Maybe this is why I haven’t cried. To me, she isn’t gone yet. In my heart and in my mind, she is still with me. My memories keep her alive well past when her body gave out. She still makes me want to be a better grandson, husband, future father and human being. None of those things make me sad.
Like my wife, maybe I am just relieved that she isn’t in pain anymore. Her death wasn’t tragic or untimely. She had a full and good life. That is nothing for me to cry over.
I miss you grandma. Even if the tears won’t come.