Time to get a little heavy… fair warning. As I said, this list has a bunch of things I don’t normally blog about which is, I guess, the entire point. I have two specific moments that, at their essence, are really the same moment with two different people and are the only two real regrets that I have in my life. I wish I could go back and say goodbye to my maternal grandpa and my fraternal grandma differently before they both died.
One thing I don’t do well is death – I always find a reason to skip a funeral, when I go to viewings I skip even going near the body. It isn’t necessarily that it creeps me out but just that I don’t get the whole ritual. When I die, I don’t even want to be embalmed. Donate all my organs, put me in a cardboard box, let my kids say goodbye one last time then burn me to ashes and have a gathering to celebrate my life. Once I’m gone there’s nothing left in the shell of my body so why go to all the trouble with preserving it. And don’t even get me started about the whole idea of cemeteries with all those bodies rotting away sealed up tight where they can’t even nourish the trees and other life around them.
My grandpa died four years ago. He was one of the most important men to ever come into my life. I was there with the rest of my family – brothers, sister, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, literally everyone – when he died. I think he held out long enough for us all to get there after the dreaded middle-of-the-night phone call before he took his last breath. We all took turns going to the bed and saying our last goodbye and while I didn’t skip it, I didn’t do everything I wish I had. I held his hand and told him I loved him but I hesitated and for some reason held back throwing myself on him for one last hug and kissing him like I really wanted to do. So, I’d like to relive that moment and this time not give a shit how it looked or if it messed up some machine hooked to him and give him that hug.
I should have learned my lesson about this particular moment by the time my dear grandma on my Dad’s side passed away a year later. But, instead I listened to my Dad – who knows how I feel about the whole subject of death. He told me the last time he had seen her she hadn’t even known who he was and that it wouldn’t matter if I went to see her one last time or not. So I didn’t. At the time I rationalized that it would break my heart to have her not recognize me and to see her in such a diminished capacity preferring instead to remember the small, sweet lady who was always such a gracious and giving woman. Even now I wonder how different it would have been had I gone to say goodbye. Maybe she would have known me and taken some small comfort in my presence. I’ll never know and I wish I had gone.