There’s an old saying that there are only two things for certain in life: death and taxes. And, well, I got to experience both within the same week.
I don’t think you ever expect death. It just creeps up on you at the most random of times. There you are, muddling through life day by day and making plans, and then in an instant, those plans suddenly mean nothing.
So there I am, laying in bed awake because I’m worrying about my baby bunny, who isn’t quite a baby anymore, at 10 years old. It was taking everything in my power to not go downstairs and sleep with her in the living room, just to make sure she was ok. Then I got the text that would change anything I would worry about for the next hours and days.
“I need to get ahold of your dad.” Said the text from my aunt. Ok…..well….it’s almost 11 and he’s most definitely asleep. Then my phone rang.
What I heard on that call brought me instantly to tears, which is very unusual for me. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to react to being told your grandfather has passed away, so I’d say that grasping my sleeping husbands’ arm while trying to maintain my composure on the phone was an OK way to handle it.
But it wasn’t that initial call that got me. It wasn’t the seconds that turned into minutes as I desperately called my mom and dad on every number I could to wake them up. It wasn’t the half-cried voicemail to one of my sisters telling her I needed her to go knock on their door.
It was about an hour later, when I realized I would never have a picture of me in my wedding dress with my grandfather. Now, I’m already married, been so for almost a year. But I had planned to bring my dress back to my native Pennsylvania and get a picture of me with both of my grandfathers, who were unable to attend the original ceremony because of the distance.
I guess I just never thought this could happen. Life would work out and I’d have that memory. But it didn’t. It just didn’t. The funeral is this week and I still haven’t comes to terms with it.
It’s hard to think of my grandfather, a man I never remember being sick, and know that he’s gone. That I’ll never see him walk up to the house again in his cowboy boots and black jeans. I’m raw. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing. When a memory hits, the tears come. In the car, at the store, at a hockey game. It doesn’t matter.
And somehow, through all of this, I’m supposed to keep training for a marathon. Right now it feels impossible. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. Sometimes I feel like I can’t even breathe. But I’ll try. I’ll try because I know that my grandfather wouldn’t want me to stop pursuing my dreams.
So, as I prepare myself emotionally for this week. I think about how in less than 50 days I’ll line up in the Steel City with my water bottle, watch, and race bib. As I’ll take in the nervous excitement of the runners around me, I’ll take a moment to remember the people who will be with me the whole time. My mother’s mother, my father’s mother, and my father’s father, who will no doubt be looking down and willing me to keep going, with that smile and twinkle in his eye from behind his glasses.