Claudia: Do you realize?

November 22, 2010

This entry will be another interruption of the regularly scheduled programming. This has been the hardest month and a half of my young life. It is not that I do not love Edinburgh with all my heart, because I love it here, and I love being here, and I love my friends here, and the way the sun shines in the late afternoon, and how the leaves are still golden, and how the crags and Arthur’s Seat stand over the city, but the distance from my home is quickly becoming unbearable.

Skype, while it solves some of the problems caused by a lack of physical closeness, cannot make up for the fact that my mom cannot give me a hug. My grandpa Richard died a few days ago, and the last month has been a roller coaster of emotion. After the first week of uncertainty and anxiety, I could breathe when he went home and he was okay. Last week, with the numbers (I hate that expression. A kidney is not made up of numbers. We are not made up of numbers. People talk about “the numbers” like they know what it means, but I am sure that we have no idea) headed in the wrong direction, he was given a very negative prognosis, and now he is gone.

It is incredibly hard for me to grasp this. When I left home, he was fine. We chatted away about the adventures on which I was about to embark, and I was certain that I would be back to see him again and share my adventures with him like he shared so many of his with me. As a matter of fact, I am taking a course called Scotland and Orality because I thought that learning about the oral tradition would help me in my recently discovered quest to piece together all of the parts of my grandfather’s life. Only a few years ago did I begin to appreciate all of his stories: from growing up, from college, from his days in the merchant marine, from raising my mother and aunts, from seeing me grow up. He saw so much, and for a very brief period, I had the sense to take advantage of his experiences and learn from him. I only wish that I could go back in time, and learn to listen at an earlier age. At least I still have our correspondence. There is not much, but it is precious to me. I have a postcard on my desk that I bought this weekend in Saint Andrews. The thought is simple, the stamp is affixed, but when I was at the post office, I didn’t know his ZIP code, so here it sits. I don’t know what to do with it. I can’t throw it away, but I don’t want it here.

My dad set up a Skype account for him so that he could talk to me. We never had the chance to use it, but somebody is still signing in on the account. That unholy notification “Richard Marcus has signed in,” is haunting me.

Jeff said that last weekend, with everybody together, was fun, and that it helped him realize how amazing Grandpa was, and how he should strive to be more like him. Yeah, that would have been helpful. The entire family was gathered together, but I was alone, and being alone, thousands of miles away, makes this so much harder. I had no idea of the situation at any given point. The last I had heard, he had one to three months to live, but here I am two weeks later, and here he is not. I can’t adjust to this idea that I will never see him again, never speak to him again, never write to him again. I take comfort in the thought that he was still lucid in our last conversation, and our last words to each other were to send love. I am reminded of the wise words of Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips:

Do You Realize – that everyone you know someday will die?
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

His atoms will be somewhere in the universe, perhaps mingling with those previously belonging to my grandma. They are the world, and we walk amongst them.

In the memory of my Grandpa, the caper must continue, and for the memory of my Grandpa, I will continue to make it extraordinary.


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