Dearly Departed

Release: The Death of my Grandfather

I have been fortunate enough to achieve greater understanding of life through death. At the moments when perspective and solace are needed I have found some comfort through knowledge and wisdom. With the clarity offered only through time, I am reminded that we will and must confront the reality of our mortal natures at various moments throughout our lives. Sometimes these passages can be abrupt and painful and a deeply felt sense of treachery towards life can incite a violent bitterness while other times the loss of life seems akin to kindness, as though it were a merciful act of love upon one by a mysteriously divine grace.

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to travel and meet with my mother at my Grandfather’s bedside in Arizona. The desert sun of late September still scorches the earth while the arid dry air burns the eyes. It was not a visit of pleasure but a pilgrimage. We made this trip not knowing what would happen. We were fortunate to eventually bring him home from the hospital and share precious conversations with him. We were lead to believe his life would outlast our previous expectations and were comforted in this new knowledge. Our times together were sparse and brief, my Mother and I spent a great deal of time alone together and with Grandmother. What did transpire in those conversations was of great importance for all of us and will be remembered dearly.

We left Arizona knowing things would get a little better before they got worse. In reality, it would actually be no more than a month before his transfiguration. Hours before his passing, I had a restless anxiety. I wrote to my mother to let her know I was thinking of her. My tension eventually gave way to an uneasy sleep. The morning of, during my commute on the subway, I happened upon one of many possible Jorge Luis Borges’ stories. This particular story was The Immortal. I had nearly finished it when my mother called me to tell me the grave news. I could not help but draw the comparison that man, though he wishes for the eternal, might indeed be more satisfied to live as we all do, briefly.

In the face of my dying Grandfather my senses were capable of directly confronting the eventuality of death but my language could not. I could not speak to my Grandfather as if he were dying though the reality was open and real. There was no need to speak about death while living, as there was still life to live. We had plenty of things to talk about and not talk about. We both could feel the silent waiting patience of death and chose not to discuss its presence. I think we rested knowing it was on its way and instead were comforted by each other while remembering the better days we had spent together.

My Grandfather William passed this October twelfth. The fruit of his labors and the Irish American surviving members of three descending generations walk among us. He lives on in living memories and will be missed.