People walk up to me and seem to repeat the same words over and over:
I’m so sorry.
And all I can find the courage to say back to them is:
Here’s a confession: I’ve been lying.
Because it’s not okay. A part of me died less than 72 hours ago. It’s gone forever, to never return. And every other part of my existence is trying to make sense of what’s happened. It’s like a foundation piece of a Jenga tower was taken away and the tower is deciding whether to stay high or tumble down.
It’s been two days since I got the news about my dearest grandpa.
He was such a nice soul. In fact, the nicest I’ve known. He was a great man in every sense of the word. He had this raw combination of quiet and hyper about him which, for anyone who knew him, made perfect sense. He was intelligent and often that upset my cousins and I because he made us look incredibly stupid by winning every argument ever. And he’d ramble on forever about how unfocused and uncivilized the new generation is. Haha!
It was obvious that we would lose any fight (intellectual or physical) with him, but we picked one anyway. He was adorable when he got mad. He would start jumping and yelling and name-calling. Mr. G. S. Sandhu, what a man! Thank you for all the love you gave us, your family. We love you.
He was the strongest yet the most sensitive man I knew. He’d cry at the drop of a hat! What’s worse? He passed his crying genes down to me, making me a cry baby too! Gee.. thanks, dada (grandpa).
When I was in boarding school, he would travel for 8 days (per trip) so I could spend summer and winter vacations with the family. And he would burst into tears everytime he had to say goodbye to me (ugh.. so predictable). Once I moved to Vancouver, this just got worse. He would begin to cry every time he heard my voice!
“Why are you crying? Am I making you sad, grandpa?” I would tease him. “These are happy tears, Sonia. Hahahahaha! You make me very happy. I love you betaji.”
Oh! How much I loved him back! I should’ve told him that. My grandfather was my favorite man. I should’ve told him that too … but it’s too late now.
To be completely honest, I don’t think I completely understand what it means to be gone. In the last two days, I’ve repeated this phrase multiple times. And like a math problem, I have to work my way up to the meaning each time.
To be gone means I will never see him again.
To be gone means I will never hear his voice again.
To be gone means I will never get to hug him again.
To be gone means I will never get to tell him that I love him.
To be gone means I will never get to tease him again.
To be gone means I will never be able to refer to him in present tense again.
For someone who constantly preaches the whole living in the now idea, I sure have a lot of regrets. It’s what dead people do to you, I guess. They give you space and freedom – something we crave so much when they’re alive. And they give you time. Time to think about what you’ve done (or should’ve done, but didn’t). What have I done? Did I make the most of the time that was gifted to me? And not just the gifted days in my life. What have I done with the time that was gifted to me in the form of other people’s life, like my lovely grandfather, who chose to spend his precious moments caring and worrying about his family (among other people and things of course)! It’s shocking to me how ungrateful and selfish I have been! He was right, after all, we are stupid. He knew this. Stupid to not make the most of the chances given to us.
I’ve made some mistakes in my relationship with my grandfather. And as I contemplate my mistakes, the same patterns reveal themselves in other relationships as well. Oh. My. Gosh. Things need to change. I need to change. Desperately. Now. Because I may live to be a 150 years old, or I may die tonight. Either way, life is too short. And the time we have is just not enough.
I’m sorry, grandpa for not realizing this before. And I thank you for teaching me this lesson while I have the chance and time to make amends.
You have a taken a part of me with you. But I guess it was never really mine, it was yours all along.
May your soul rest in peace.
I love you.