the void

There’s no one waiting for my in the window to greet me when I come home. No paws click-clacking on the hardwood. No noses nudging me awake. No tails knocking against walls and windows.

It is so quiet now. Without having to meet the needs of another life form I find myself remaining in downtown and packing my evenings. I get home so late; I haven’t walked through my door before 9:45p since he died. Reaffirming the change, as if that was necessary, is the reminder that he’s not there to greet me after a long day. Thats really hard.

I consider myself a pretty strong woman. I’ve had more than my fair share of love and loss in my 28 years. But this hurts differently. I knew every part of him. I could tell if he had a stomach ache just by the way he carried himself. We had a schedule. He loved me every day and I had so much fun just being around him. My companion is gone and it wasn’t my choice and it was out of my control and I want him to come back. And everyday I’m reminded that he can’t come back when I walk up to my dark and empty window.

On Tuesday I’m supposed to get his ashes back. I’ve never understood cremation. The first time I encountered it was when my maternal grandfather died. Suddenly my steadfast, strong, noble grandfather who was exceedingly tall in stature and standard was contained in a brown plastic box with a public health certificate taped to it. This was mind boggling to me. How could a person who lived such a full life possibly be reduced to fit in a container and carried around in a craft paper bag? What? It still doesn’t make sense to me and I wish I had a place to go and physically be near him.

I didn’t appreciate his gravitas as a kid. He was a grouch who liked baseball, the stock market, and was set on my brother and I being skillful and respectful. We were rarely both, which only reinforced his grouchiness. Nevertheless, he showed up to football games and parades, supporting us in ways unseen and under-appreciated. He was the foundation that made our successes possible. His quiet love became so much more apparent as I grew older. So often I find myself missing his side glances and wishing I could just sit in my spot in the living room, next to the hearth – three feet from the tv, and be in his presence again. Maybe then I’d feel more assured or comforted. Right now I feel neither.

He would’ve been 91 next week, and only the Lord knows how crotchety his age has made him. He didn’t share much about his past with us kids, but tonight I learned about his Navy service. Turns out that my brother was following in Grandpa J’s footsteps when he pursued HVAC. Unknown to any of us, he was trained in HVAC – was his job aboard the USS Aucilla. He really was fundamental to who we became; Matt stands on his shoulders and has an incredibly successful career. I’m now more convinced that is part of my grandfather’s legacy. He’s been gone since November 2007 and I’d give my right arm to have breakfast with him again.

I know I have to just let myself feel this voided space. This hole. I know that it won’t ever be filled in completely. But as far as I can tell, this crater is as big as the one that killed off the dinosaurs.

“This is a song for anyone
With a broken heart
This is a song for anyone
Who can’t get out of bed
I’ll do anything
To be happy
Oh, ’cause blue skies are calling
But I know that it’s hard
This is the last song that I write
While still in love with you
This is the last song that I write
While you’re even on my mind
Cause it’s time to leave
Those feelings behind
Oh, ’cause blue skies are calling
But I know that it’s hard
I don’t think that it’s the end
But I know we can’t keep going
I don’t think that it’s the end
But I know we can’t keep going
But blue skies are calling
Oh, yeah, blue skies are calling
Oh, blue skies are calling
But I know that it’s hard”
– blue skies. noah and the whale.

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