When a loved one dies, time stops. No blogging, tweeting, socializing. My laptop was silent for several weeks, the only activity my phone saw was the ringing from relatives calling and the beeps from text messages.
Every Saturday night when I was little, Pa-Pa and I sat in the den while Nanna cooked dinner. The lights were on, the room warmly lit and welcoming. Tom & Jerry was our favorite cartoon to watch, followed closely by Popeye and The Pink Panther. When I was older, we’d spend every Saturday roaming around, stopping by the mall, or a toy store, or just spending time together while the car had its oil changed. I’d spend hours in the den, showing him my gymnastics Barbie dolls or building things with Lincoln Logs or brightly colored cardboard bricks. After we moved in, Pa-Pa would come say goodnight to me every night, and always sang me to sleep. Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross, I Come to the Garden Alone. His favorites, and now some of mine, too.
When I got older still, Pa-Pa picked me up from high school, always stopping by Chick-fil-A or Krystal if I was hungry. And he drove me to my first day of college, parking in the keyhole at Oglethorpe and watching as I made my way into Hearst.
I wasn’t there when he died. Mom, Nanna, and Uncle Henry were there, however, so thankfully he wasn’t alone. I had contemplated getting up in the night and driving the dark and silent streets to sleep in his room with him, so he wouldn’t be alone. One day I’ll learn to listen to my gut when it’s telling me to do things like that.
It’s been over a month, and none of us can settle down. After several months of being on call and going, going, going, it’s jarring to suddenly have come to a stop. What now? What do we spend our time talking about and doing? As Nanna said, after the memorial service, “Well, what do I do with the rest of my life?” I think the first step is finding peace.
It’s a quieter house, now. The tv, always alive with football or baseball, is silent. When I visit, I open the door to an empty room. We’re talking about remodeling, new carpets, painting, new artwork, so life is slowly moving on. New projects are good for the soul.
I miss him every day. I will always miss him. And I don’t have any positive spin on the subject, some neat way to end the story to make the reader feel better. I’d love to say I’ve spoken to him in a dream, or felt his presence, or heard his voice, but I’ve never been a big believer in that stuff. So I’ll be happy with my memories and my pictures…I have so many happy ones, and that’s what counts.