My grandpa passed away on St. Patrick’s Day.
I don’t want to make this post all depressing, but writing about it is the best way for me to express my thoughts and feelings, and I find it cathartic. Death is a part of life, after all, an inevitability. I really love my grandpa and I miss him a lot, and he hasn’t even been gone that long, but it feels like it’s been months as opposed to just a few weeks. He died only 18 months after my grandma died. (You may recall the post I wrote back in September entitled, “The Small Beauties of Grief.”) Surprisingly, I was less upset at his funeral than I was at my grandmother’s. I think it was the same for the rest of my family, too. Obviously we were all sad, but it was a time to remember him and reflect on all the great times we had with him. When we went out to lunch after the burial, several people, including my dad, stood up one by one and shared happy memories about my grandpa. We all laughed and clapped. It was wonderful. It was a celebration of his life.
The only time I spontaneously broke down was the day before, during my grandfather’s wake, when my aunt started sharing memories about him, about family vacations, and how he always had the house filled with music. I cried silently and stared straight ahead without looking at anyone, and one of my younger cousins took my hand and held it for a while. The mass was also touching, and of course when they go and sing beautifully emotional songs like “Amazing Grace” and “On Eagle’s Wings,” it makes it pretty difficult not to get a little choked up.
It’s just hard now because obviously there will be a shift in our family dynamics. We used to go to my grandparents’ house every Christmas Eve, and we continued the tradition even after my grandma died. Now that they’re both gone, we’ll have to start new traditions. We’re all getting older. One of my cousins is even getting married this fall (which I’m super excited about, as I haven’t been to a wedding since I was the flower girl at my aunt’s wedding when I was 5). Things are changing. And change is inevitable, too. That’s why, although it may be hard, I’ve come to learn that it really is better to embrace change with open arms and a brave smile, instead of trying to avoid things we may not have any control over. What we can control, though, is how we handle these hardships in life. If we can accept change, the good and the bad, we can find the strength to keep moving forward in life.
Love you, Poppy. ❤