"Grandpa is in the hospital", said my mother.
"Grandpa X"? I asked; for a moment forgetting that, of course it would be him, my mother's father had passed one snowy New Years Eve. Once again, my mind resting in a place in time where I hadn't learned of hard things to come; once again, my mind, jolted back to reality by the present.
My childhood summers were decorated with his laughter and smiles. In order to stay involved with the family business, he drove one of the delivery trucks. I'd wait at the end of my driveway for him, then hop in, each trip ending with an ice cream cone of some sort.
My eighteenth year marked many changes for me; the official end of my childhood in more ways than one. Entering that summer, I truly felt invincible; immortal, even. Despite the fact that I'd lost people that I loved, I honestly felt like I personally would never age, could never age.
My heart didn't emerge from that year intact. It's never healed in those places, even after all these years.
That summer, my godfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was my grandfather's best friend. Rather quickly, his body was ravaged by the disease. They had waited to tell me of his diagnosis until after my graduation party, the third weekend in June. He passed in August.
In the time between, my mask of niavete shielded me from what was to be. I believed that my prayers would be answered, that he'd get well. I left for a weekend sojourn with my best friend, and when I returned that Sunday night, I had to grasp the chair in front of me to remain standing; he'd deteriorated that much.
Two days later, my prayers were no longer for his well being or recovery, or even for more time. I cannot tell you in words what it was like, in that moment, when instead of life, I prayed for death. I'd never imagined such a scenario that would bring me to my knees in that manner. I didn't leave his home the same girl that I'd walked in.
He died the next day, and at his funeral as I was reading, I looked up and saw my grandfather, a single tear streaming down his cheek. His eyes were a piercing blue, the same color as my best friends. I recall in that moment the blinding realization of what was to come: He'd lost his best friend. My best friend sat behind him. Someday, would it be I, or would it be her, sitting in the front row, wondering where the time had passed, glancing over at a coffin that held the remains of what we had held so dear?
The thought haunts me still; with this time and space between. I want to be home, holding my grandfather's hand, talking to my parents, sitting next to my grandmother. And yet, I am home. My home; with my family, my future, my wood floors creaking below my feet, my own children living the moments that will become childhood memories.
And caught up, yet again, in this thing we call life. This passing of time. This happening of events around me, this partaking in the things that adults partake in, yet this still feeling as though surely this cannot be.
Balancing what I am externally with this waiting in my mind, in my memory, waiting for the sound of a truck to come crunching around the bend, the swinging open of a door, my skinny legs climbing up to plunk down next to him, my scrawny arms rolling down a window through which my upper torso would emerge, my face smiling into a place which held only sun and blue ruled the sky.