Warning: this post contains some triggering information about a suicide that happened within my family. It still breaks me apart at the seams when I think about it sometimes… And nights like tonight, I end up writing about it.
How or where do I begin to even to speak of this… I don’t know, but I’m beginning.
I remember the way that you’d specifically part your hair, the scent of your aftershave and still to this day when I pass someone wearing that familiar scent I end up having flashbacks to countless memories. Fond memories.
I remember all the road trips and how we made up hand gestures so that you’d get my attention in the backseat because more than likely I was listening to some sort of emo/alternative music just a little too loud. I remember how we hiked around the Badlands and how all we kept hearing was “there’s snakes out there”, we were well aware.
I remember when we went white water rafting in Colorado… Oh how I wish with every being that we could relive that day. That was one of the experiences that I’ll never forget.
But one of the best things was when I’d be at your house after school and we’d have our standard Shullsburg spreadable cheese and town house crackers and watch ‘Gilmore Girls’. Mom always said that the show was pretty dang similar to our lives in some weird way. You were definitely Richard, mom was Lorelai and Sheena was definitely Rory.. I’d like to think I was fit in somewhere in there but I didn’t. Regardless, the similarities between the two were hard to not see.
But there was always more. Your support. You watched me from the stands every hockey game. Cheering even if I was riding the pine pony that game. Still congratulating me even if I played for 30 seconds. You gave me hope. And when I went away to college, you supported me. You supported me in a new way, through phone calls and financially by giving me a monthly allowance that would help me because you didn’t want me to work my butt off while in college. I was thankful for that.
And then there was your surgery… Which was successful. You were released from the hospital a few days later than expected but everything seemed to be okay, until it wasn’t. You became sick. Your sutures ripped apart. You knew you’d have to go through another surgery to have more sutures put in place… And you weren’t going to do that.
You stayed up, waited for your wife to wake… Got dressed and ready like you were going to the store for the paper like you did every day. You told her you’d see her later… Then you went into the basement like you always did to walk out the garage. Instead this time you didn’t walk to the garage… You died.
We had to replace the window that the bullet went through. I still refuse to step in the middle of the back porch. To me that is as hollow as the ground that your ashes are buried under.
And then… You were gone. You were gone from everyone’s lives in a matter of seconds. I spent months in a drunken stupor trying to wrap my mind around it all. At nineteen I somehow passed my second semester of college with barely studying and asking upperclassman to buy me small bottles of fleischmanns vodka to mix with crystal light.
And then… I was lost.
I still long for you in every capacity more than I ever imagined. I miss you with every ounce of my being. I don’t know how you put up with three teenage girls in your van telling you how badly they had to pee while you were driving us from school to the rink, but that’s what grandparents do, they laugh and love us.
I can only hope to love and support the newer generation that you won’t get to meet as much as you loved and supported all of us. But there was only one of you.
I still miss you, Grandpa.