Comp. for College
16 January 2015
Death and Being
I am an analytical person. Reason is my best friend. Reason has helped me through a lot of painful breakups, family issues, personal struggles, etc. Not everyone has an inherent need to justify and understand every emotion they feel or even most emotions that they feel, but I do. In the midst of a particularly painful breakup, I actually started journaling a sort of question and answer session. I asked questions like ‘what can I learn from this?’ and ‘are my emotional responses healthy and appropriate?’ and ‘how can I take what I’ve learned here and apply to possible future relationships?’ I ended with four pages of very reasonable process. It’s just how I deal with things.
Pappy was not my grandfather by blood. I never knew the man (I use the term “man” here very loosely. The “man” was actually a spineless coward) that was my father’s biological father. And, as I am sure an intelligent reader will already have deduced, I had no desire to know him. Pappy was my grandfather. Pappy is my grandfather and always will be.
He passed away shortly after one o’clock in the afternoon on New Year’s Day. “He did not struggle,” my father later informed me, “he just… went to sleep.”
I arrived in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee around 6 o’clock on New Year’s Eve. I was there for a conference that my boyfriend, Christian, attended yearly with his church. We went to a particularly loud and crowded convention center and “Christian partied” our way into the New Year before returning carrying a mixture of tiredness and pulsing stimulation to our hotel rooms around one o’clock in the morning.
Later that morning, I got up and ate breakfast in the hotel lodge and socialized with people before finding a quiet corner where I started my daily devotional: “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.
I received a call from my dad. It was one forty-two.
“Hello?” I answered cautiously.
Silence swallowed us whole.
Another long silence followed as I waited for my father to speak some words of casual flippancy. I waited, hungering for anything that wasn’t what I knew was coming but there was a certain shakiness in his voice that rang in my ears. The truth was undeniable. There was only one reason my father could be crying.
He continued, “Pappy’s in heaven… Pappy’s with Jesus.”
I nodded silently as my father continued to speak to me. I cried. I cried for my father, for myself, for my Mammy, for all of us. I cried because of the stab of regret. I cried because suddenly my stomach turned and my throat swelled and it hurt.
My dad told me that he wanted me to enjoy the rest of my trip, apologized for calling me with bad news and informed me that he had called Christian first so that he knew what to expect. I left the quiet lobby, still violently wiping the falling tears from my face. My boyfriend found me by the elevator and we skipped the two o’clock service and sat and talked for a long time. I told him stories about Pappy. He told me about his experience with his Papaw’s passing. He told me, “You won’t hurt like this forever... Time” he explained “doesn’t really heal all wounds. But things get easier as it passes unless you don’t let them.”
A question popped into my mind, ‘what exactly is time supposed to (or not supposed to) heal though?’ I began to internally interrogate myself. The process to understanding my own grief was like an ever-working clock. Sometimes I was able to focus on other things but there always seemed to be a tiny part of my consciousness working on this problem. Nothing ever had my full attention until night fell and I lie awake, running through my analysis of the emotions I had felt that day. A grey tint to the sky warned me of the coming morning and reminded me that I had spent my whole night and was still filled with restlessness. Another question followed the multitudes: ‘why am I not asleep?’
Upon my return home, things seemed to go…