The day my grandfather died, actually the exact moment my grandfather died, my husband, children and I were pulling into our favorite vacation destination.
It wasn’t after a tremendous amount of thought.
It was spring break and I had a commitment for this website. It had been on the books for months.
It was apparent that he had been severely going downhill for months, if not the last year leading up to his death. He was 93 years old, and cancer had taken over his body. We got that official word in late February. April 1st, he was gone.
Why do I write about such a somber topic? It is because I know that I am not only person who has faced such a gut wrenching decision.
He passed away on a Monday, and the Saturday before, I stayed home from a party that my husband’s family was having and sat with him. I still hear the echo of what he said to me during a particularly uncomfortable moment. I said “Bobo, what do you need?” This was as he was trying to get up out of the hospital bed that had taken up residence in his living room. He responded “I am just looking for some comfort.” I was ‘too busy’ looking through old photos of him for his memorial service to stop and give the man, who was still with us, some comfort.
The Sunday before his death, with our car loaded down, with beach towels, swim trunks and luggage for a week at the beach, we stopped to let our two very young boys say goodbye to the man who lived to hear updates about their latest antics and had times of pure joy watching out the window to catch a glimpse of them playing in the yard.
When we left his house after our goodbyes we had a car loaded with beach supplies and grief. The heart wrenching sobs from the backseat were coming from my son, who had just weeks before lost a game of checkers to my grandfather in a downright embarrassing fashion.
My mother assured me over and over and over that leaving was the best thing. It probably was, but I still felt very torn, my heart was in two places at one time.
When I got the call and learned that he was no longer with us, my husband and I had just pulled in to our lunch destination. It wasn’t a typical lunch though, it was a business lunch with the representatives from the destination that hosted us for the week. Of course, I explained the reason for my red puffy eyes and they understood and gave me big hugs.
While we were there we decided to find ways to honor his memory, like when we were getting ice cream, all of us got butter pecan, because that was his favorite.
We fully embraced tearful dinners and moments during the trip and talked about our favorite memories. Which I think in some ways was more than we would have done had we been at home. When dealing with the death of a loved one and you are at home, it is the norm to get caught up in the details, the planning for the service to come.
I think of our trip often, because in some ways not being home and with my mom and dad has been hard to feel like there was closure. I also worry that being in our favorite spot when he passed away, will forever taint our time that we spend there.
They say the cure for everything is salt. Water, sweat, tears, or the sea. Only time will tell but I can only hope that we will find sweet memories over sad and joy over pain.