When I came home from school today Dad was waiting for me in the living room. I knew something was up. He gave me a hug.
“Your great-grandfather is dead,” said Dad. “He died this morning.”
My sister is four. But she doesn’t understand anything.
“Is he dead?”
“Yes,” says Dad.
“Can I bury him?”
“No, he’s not going to be buried yet. We’re going to say good-bye to him.”
“Can’t he talk?”
“No, he can’t talk.”
“Not even if we tickle him?”
“No, no one’s allowed to tickle him. You must be a good girl,” says Dad.
She sings all the way: “Great-granddad’s dead, Great-granddad’s dead.”
The little red house is full of people. Mom and Dad embrace everyone and Great-grandma too. Granddad is there. Now his daddy is dead.
“Why’s everyone crying?” asks my sister.
I don’t want to cry in front of everyone.
“Do you want to see him?” asks Mom. I get a knot in my stomach.
“Can we see him?”
“Yes, he looks as if he’s sleeping. You don’t need to see him if you don’t want to.”
I give the matter careful thought.
“I want to see him,” I say.
Mom opens the door. Great-granddad is lying in bed as if he’s asleep.
“He’s with God now,” says Mom.
“Let’s buy a real-life magic wand and make him stop being dead,” says my sister.
I expected to be afraid, but he was nothing like a ghost, he was just exactly like Great-granddad. I walked over to him and stroked his hands. They were soft but cold. I stroked his head; his forehead was cold but he was still my great-granddad. I bent down to him:
“Dear Great-granddad,” I whispered.
“Are you OK?” asked Mom.
I couldn’t really answer. I couldn’t say yes because I was sad that he was dead, but I couldn’t say I felt bad because he obviously didn’t feel bad.
“I can’t answer that,” I said.
Later I went back into his room and sat beside him. I felt as if he might wake up any minute. But he is dead. And I started to feel the pain of losing, the pain of letting go my dearest friend.
Every self shall taste death
And we might have our turn right after we close this tab
And now you are reluctant to close the tab
No matter when would it be
The thing is
Are we well-prepared for that?