Death is not a goodbye


Ellen McDonald, News Editor

Edna St. Vincent Millary once wrote, “Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age

The child is grown, and puts away childish things. Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.”

When I was little, I never had to experience death. I saw it in movies and on television, but never right before my eyes. It is a hard thing to grasp as a child. I liked to think that no one would die, as long as I loved them enough. I thought that love would be enough to keep them here with me.

I was 13 when my grandmother passed away. All throughout the visitation and the funeral service, I did not shed a single tear. I thought something was wrong with me.

I sat around and watched as my father mourned the loss of the woman who had loved him since the moment he let out his first cry. I watched in silence as my Grandaddy cried as his wife, his life partner was lowered into the ground.

It was not until later that I crawled under her bed and cried until I ran out of tears.

For months, I struggled to understand why my grandmother was taken from me. I would curl into a little ball and beg for her to come back. I wrote her letters.

I was angry. I did not even get to tell her goodbye.

I slowly healed from the loss of my grandmother. I came to terms with the fact that she was gone and that I would see her again later.

But death is funny. Death is cunning. Death lets you heal from loss and just as the tear within your heart makes its final stitches, it rips you back open.

I got the call to come and say my goodbyes to my grandfather last week. I got in my car and drove to the hospital that I knew all too well.

I stepped off the elevator and walked into the ICU waiting room and I saw us, my family. I saw us shatter as my dad told us that my grandmother has passed. I saw my brother come to terms with the fact that death does not discriminate, it only takes.

My memory was disturbed when the nurse opened the door and led me down the hall. Death filled that hall. Grandmothers and grandfathers laid in beds as their families watched them in silence.

When I opened the door to my grandfather’s room, the breath within my lungs left me. I was empty.

It is hard to look at the man who once held you in his arms and pretended to be a horse as you rode on his back and see life escaping him. He was no longer the man that had old western movies on constant repeat or who asked if I was “ready to open presents” as soon as I walked into his house on Christmas.

He was quiet and still. He was peaceful. When I got ready to say my goodbyes to him, I told him about the night my brother was born.

I was only three so I could not go to the hospital with everyone. So, my grandfather stayed home with me. I was late, but I was too excited to sleep. We tried to turn on the TV, but my grandfather could not find the remote.

We sat in silence and in the dark and just looked at one another and talked.

Twenty years ago, he held me after I was born. He looked down at me and I looked up at him. Twenty years later, I held his hand as he whispered “I love you.”

When we lose loved ones, people tell us that we will see them again. They tell us that they are in a better place and that they are sorry for our loss.

I did not lose my grandfather. I simply said “I will see you later.”

I see him now, even after he has left our world. I see him in the fish that swim freely in the river. I see him in the wind that rustles the trees. I see him in my mother, who loved him dearly.

I will see you again Popoo.