Today marks one year since my grandpa passed away and I needed to get some things out of my system. These twelve months have been extremely hard but during that time, I’ve been able to reflect on our amazing relationship and how this grieving process has been so different than my previous experiences.
My grandpa was my hero. He moved in with us when I was 11 and before that, he lived a 15 minutes car ride away. I’m very lucky that I got to see him almost everyday and develop such a strong bond. I’ve always been very close to him and we shared many great adventures. He was always there when I got home from school, cooking, gardening or watching gameshows on TV. I did take him for granted when I was younger because he was always there and I just couldn’t imagine him going anywhere. A year before he passed, I remember my mom saying that my siblings and I thought of him as invincible and that was exactly how it was. My grandpa was the most energetic and hard working person I’ve ever met. He would rarely sit still and it was impossible to keep up with him. Every single day at dinner, he would start cleaning the table before we were even done.
My grandpa never had the opportunity to travel before his 70s but he made up for it in the last 10 years of his life. We went to Ecuador and Moscow together and I will cherish these memories forever. I can still remember him speaking Spanish after 50 years of no practice or discovering the Russian metro system.
In his eulogy, I talked about how my siblings and I never knew a lot about my grandpa’s life before he became our grandpa. We knew he grew up in Morocco, never went to school, worked on a farm, moved to France, met my grandma and that was mostly it. One of my dreams was to go to Morocco with him and visit the place he grew up in. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to share that adventure. In the last few years, he did open up a bit more about his childhood when his siblings were around and my mom does tell me what she knows if I ask her. Obviously, I’m curious to know what my grandpa was like before we came along but I’m OK with what I’ve learnt by knowing him.
My grandpa started getting sick when I was studying in Canada and he passed away two months before I finished my last semester. Being so far away in his last moments was extremely hard but at the same time, I get to remember him healthy and happy. Our last Skype conversation was hilarious and my last words to him were something like “Take care of your butt” (you had to be there).
My grandpa passed away on a Monday. I was on a camping trip on the weekend and I could feel that something was wrong. I couldn’t really explain to you how or why but when my dad called me during my 8:30 class on the Monday, I immediately knew. I was lucky enough to be able to fly back home for the funeral. On the day, I looked at the cars we were taking to the church and told my sister “There’s no space left for grandpa.” She looked at me and I realised that grandpa wasn’t coming with us. It’s really strange how for the first few weeks, you sometimes forget that it happened. I would wake up in the morning and for 30 minutes I would be super happy and then I’d remember and my world would come crashing down all over again. After a time, these instances became less and less frequent. I dream of him being alive sometimes and waking up is always hard but it’s becoming easier to accept.
Before my grandpa passed away, when people used to tell me about their loved ones’ passing and said “I miss him/her everyday”, I thought that was just a manner of speaking. It couldn’t possibly be true. Now I know that it is not a myth. I do think about him everyday but it doesn’t always make me sad. There are days like Graduation or Christmas where it’s hard not to get emotional but most times, I just remember something fun and inappropriate he once said and laugh to myself. Somedays, I see something on TV and I think “he would have loved that” or “Thank God he’s not here to see that.” We also talk about him all the time with my family and I often share funny anecdotes of my grandpa with my friends because I want everyone to know how great he was. I feel sorry for people that didn’t get the chance to meet him and experience his kindness, humour and love.
The last time I saw my grandpa was on my 21st birthday. I’m so grateful for the 21 years I had the privilege of spending with him and I wish I’d had 21 years more, but life doesn’t often go as we want it to. Nevertheless, I know that he is with me everyday of my life and that he looks after my family and I from where he is.
I am also very thankful to my friends and family who have supported me through this rough time.