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October 26, 2020

A Letter to the First Love of my Life.

Dear Grandpa,

I miss you.

I just woke up from a nap and realized I felt sad. It was an aching I couldn’t name or place.

So, I lay there for a few moments in silence. I put my right hand on my chest, over my heart, and draped my left arm softly across my torso—gently holding, cradling myself.

I realized I was aching for you.

I wish I could ask you how you’re doing; I wish I could see you; I wish I could remember what it felt like to see you.

You died too young. I still feel like you died too young, like I didn’t get enough time with you.

You died before the totality of you, before the fullness of not only your essence, but your physical presence could seep into my conscious memory. All I have is sadness, a desperate longing, and a deep well of emotion that arises every time I think of you.

Over the years, if mamma or pappa ever brought you up, or if we’d watch our baby videos, the moment they started talking about you, or the moment I’d see your face or hear your voice, I’d cry.

I’m crying right now.

Are you there? Can you see me? Or feel me?

I still feel you.

I don’t have many memories of you. The only true memory I have is one where you yelled at me because I dropped laundry detergent all over the floor. I ran and stood behind some curtains, crying and silently pleading, wishing, willing for mamma to come home.

I didn’t know that you were dying of cancer, of course.

I was unaware that you were in pain.

I don’t remember what it feels like to have jumped up and down every time I saw your car driving down the road, but mamma says I did it—Grandpa! Grandpa! Grandpa!—but I do have a deep, yet distant sense of what that would have felt like.

I have a vague, hazy feeling of that inner longing—an idea of the hope that would fill me if I knew I would see you.

When mamma told me you’d died, I didn’t believe her; I was so completely sure you were still alive. I was sitting in the backseat of the car. She was picking me up from the babysitters. Could you see this unfolding from whatever place you were in?

I ran inside—to the room where you lay.

I sort of remember seeing pappa standing to the side near the phone as I sprinted by.

You weren’t there.

I cried, or howled—threw myself on the couch and covered my face with pillows.

I’ve never gotten over losing you.

I think, somehow, the pain of that lodged an unconscionable grief deeply into my heart—a depth of sadness I didn’t know how to cope with.

I think some of it is still buried in there, although, slowly, over time, I’ve found the tentative willingness to wade myself into it and feel it.

I think it’s the only way I’ll heal from this.

I’m in love.

I think you’d like him.

I wish you could meet him.

I wish I could meet you too.

See you.

Be with you.

Remember exactly how it feels to be near you.

I wish we’d had more time together.

I wish I had more conscious memories, and not only this sadness, this desperate, hollow ache—and the deep, unwavering inner knowing of how much I loved you.

Of how much I love and will always love you.

I think mamma once told me that you were the love of my life.

I think, at least, you were the first.

And I’ve never gotten over you.

I know I have to let you go. I’ve tried writing you letters before—but it seems that I still carry this sadness inside of me. But also, maybe, that’s because I’ve never truly let it out.

Or, let out the inner feeling of hopelessly wishing things were different.

I think I need to admit it: I can’t help wishing things could have been different.

They couldn’t. And they can’t. And I know this.

But a part of me still feels it.

Also, I never got to say goodbye.

I miss you, and I want to see you.

You were my favorite person in the world, you know.

I think you knew.

The night you died, after I’d cried on the couch, I took a little piece of paper I’d drawn or colored on and gave it to pappa. It might have been wet. I’m not sure. I think it was raining that day.

Now, when I reflect on those moments and see pappa kneeling down, looking at me, I think about what it must have felt like for him.

You were his dad.

He lost you too.

But he also had to be a parent to me.

I don’t know if he ever really got the chance to grieve you completely either. Maybe. Maybe not.

I think you must have been one of his favorite people in the world too.

Oh, and pappa is the most wonderful dad. I want you to know that.

Mamma says he took after you, learned from you.

I don’t really know how to end this letter, but I miss you.

I love you.

And I wish I could see you.




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