Say It. I Dare You.
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Join Date: Jun 2006
I was sitting on that hospital bed staring at my computer and maybe something felt a little off for a moment, but then my grandma woke up and there wasn't any snoring and she said he was cold. I went around and I sort of poked around for a pulse even though I knew there was no point. Then I went and told my mom and she told everyone else. I just knelt by the bed and stared at the body, crying, not crying and crying again. I kept thinking his face was moving: his eye moving beneath the lid, an eyelash fluttering, a movement of his mouth. Everything had been so awful and brutal, but he just looked asleep, and sleeping better than he has been by far. Just peaceful. My mind wouldn't accept he wasn't in there.
I didn't get to talk to him while he was out. Everyone else did and told him they loved him and I didn't and I felt regret rising but when it hit me, it was after I sort of got to have a moment with him anyway. I felt him around me, not in his body but surrounding me, maybe filling the room. I put my head down and I mouthed, barely breathing so no sound was made, "You were and are brilliant. I love you and I know you knew (know? I think I said knew?) that," and I think the only other thing I added was, "See you later, alligator," like I always said. And it was really easy for my mind to hear his voice reply, "After awhile, crocodile," like he always did. It was after that that I admitted I hadn't told him I loved him, but when I told my mom and said I didn't think I'd said it this whole visit, she reminded me that I had, right when we got here. And Grandma told me that he knew, which of course he did, and I knew and know that. It still hurt, but it's getting through that I think I really did get that moment. His spirit or my psyche, I don't care. It was real.
Grandma says Grandpa was spiritual - good. I felt his spirit. I did. And now he's somewhere where it's daytime in the desert because he's a desert rat and he loves the heat. His body is cold but I know he's nice and warm.
The shock of white hair he had above the grey was sticking out when he was alive - it was probably drier - but now it's smooth. I think how Grandma was stroking his head and his placement on the pillow did that. Even his hair is peaceful. While I was in the room and not getting out of the way for the people who deal with dead bodies, I kept staring at him, and he kept not being there, and my mind kept trying to tell me he was and he was moving. When Grandma called out that his chest still felt a bit warm, I was out of the room and looking at old photos with my mom. I didn't know if I ought to go back in, but I thought that I didn't want to regret not going in, so I came in and put my hand over his heart and looked at him some more. The color going out of his lips made it look like he was becoming a wax statue or something, but he still looked like he was sleeping and grandma stroking his head moved the skin of his forehead and his eyelids just a bit and it was like he was still enjoying the touch.
We all said our last goodbyes to the body. It was really the body, not him. I put my head down against his chest and spoke with no sound again and told him that I'd said it to his spirit before and I was telling it to his body now: "See you later, alligator." Then I kissed his cold forehead,which was no longer clammy either, leaned against it and I told him I knew he was saying it back, "After awhile crocodile." I didn't hear it that time, of course, but that's only fitting. I was only talking to a body that time.
He was born on a Friday and he died on a Friday, just barely. We think it was 12:28 am, because Grandma saw the clock when we noticed and it was 12:29 and he was still in the process of going cold - his hands were still warm. Actually, when I touched his hand before they took him away, his hand was still warmer than mine. I am a human heatsink. I told my mom and my grandma, who had been saying that he was so cold, and they laughed a bit.
I really needed to type this. I needed the details down, like his flannel pajamas and the Playboy blanket he was under with the black and grey bunnies on it. He really liked that blanket. It was nice and soft. My mom says she got it for him when he was already sick, but I think that was when he was far less sick - when he was walking-around-insisting-he's-fine sick.
My mom showed me the inside of his wallet, which was in his favorite jeans. He had all these cards in it but only one picture. It was a faded wallet size of my Senior photo. I was the apple of his eye. I didn't know how to be, but I didn't have to. I just was.
I've been getting better for awhile. Recent backslides notwithstanding, I've been on a road to recovery that I will honor him by continuing to travel. There is no ironic getting better after he died to haunt me or hold me back. Far from it: I will respect his memory by continuing to recover. I will beat those thoughts back because this brilliant, wonderful man said I was so smart it was scary and carried my picture in his wallet and never stopped seeing me the way he always had.
I've been staring at pictures of him on the walls, and while he was still alive I looked out the window and saw the treehouse he built us grandkids. He ran all those miles each day. He was so strong. So tanned, too - and he was still tanned, just not with as much color in his face. Can spirits tan? If so, he's definitely working on a nice one in whatever sunlit desert he's basking in now. Grandpa belongs in the sun.