Note: Not your usual, happy go lucky drunken rant, possibly unpleasant reading, casual readers might want to ignore.
Anniversaries can be many things. They can be happy occasions, heck they can be pointless and stupid, too.. They can even be sad. These dark days mark a pretty gloomy one for my me and my family; the fifth anniversary of my grandfather’s death. I’m not usually a very brooding person as such, nor am I, as so often stated, the prototype family guy. But still, these events haunt me to this day. Probably because he, more so than most other people in my family, left his mark on me.
It’s not easy to put down in words how much of an inspiration another person has had on you. Especially not for someone like me who was never raised to feel, let alone express feelings. I know, though, that whatever ability I have developed to this day, I owe largely to my grandfather. He showed me a lot about what it means to be human, to struggle through hardships and dedicating, even sacrificing, parts of yourself for the happiness and well-being of others. He also taught me to smile in the face of adversity, to work hard for what you believe in, and to treasure the small things in life, and the bigger, such as the people you care about.
My grandfather was a proud man. Pride meant a lot to him. He was, in his own words, but a simple peasant, but a damn proud one at that. And his pride shone through to the end. He, himself, chose to die before becoming too much of a burden on his nearest family, or, more importantly to him, before life became too much of a burden on him.. And yes, when I say he chose to die, I mean just that. My grandfather, after many years of illness and as his last resort before sinking completely into physical decay, chose to commit suicide by hanging. I know now that he never meant to hurt us by doing what he did, he just couldn’t take it anymore.. I just wish he could’ve waited but a few more weeks. Losing a family member is never easy, especially not so when you’re not around to say goodbye.. Let alone when you’re the only one not around to say goodbye.
Around the time where all of this happened, I was living with the nicest of families in Southern California and had barely gone to bed when my phone rang at around 4 AM in the morning. On the line was my mother who somberly told me that my grandfather had been found dead a couple of hours ago. I don’t particularly remember much of the conversation, but I do remember that creepy feeling of time freezing around you and nothing seeming to matter but the cold facts at hand. I also remember grabbing my iPod, a spare key and slipping out for a walk.
I must’ve literally walked for miles (and hours for that matter), feeling estranged and pretty much alone in the world. It was an eerie feeling, but not an entirely uncomfortable one. I needed solitude and some time to think and I’d gotten just that.. It was just me, my thoughts and Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” playing in my ears.As the sun eventually started to rise, I scaled some rocks and sat down to watch the sun rise over the desert. It was quite a sight, especially since right as it happened, my iPod shuffled on and Sevendust’s “Angel’s Son” came on and hit me like a ton of bricks. I’d heard the song before, I knew the story and everything, but at that very point, it just perfectly matched my situation. I probably cried. I mean, it’s still a song that moves me to this day, but at that time.. It just said all that needed to be said.
After gathering my thoughts and deciding that come whatever may, my grandfather was in a better place, I picked myself up and headed back. On the way I stopped for breakfast at a small café – tall coffee, black, cream cheese and salmon bagel, funny those little things you remember – I even remember the sweet, young blonde behind the counter apologizing for the delay with my order and me laughing for the first time that morning, telling her not to worry as I was on vacation and other than that had bigger things to worry about.. And I guess that kinda marked the point where the world around me swirled back into existence, people started waking up, cars started passing, I returned “home” and confronted my make-shift family, telling them what had happened and what was to happen, I got on the computer and started writing people back home and I wrote a letter to my immediate family detailing my thoughts, emotions and condolences. I later learned that this very letter was apparently slid under the lid of the coffin and interred with him, so I guess in a way I did get to say goodbye.. It just didn’t feel quite right.
Which is why, I guess, that to this very day the situation still bothers me from time to time this time of year. So, my to my dear real life friends, if I seem a bit testy, ticked off or moody this holiday season, just bear with me okay? And keep pushing those good spirits. Also, I realize that there are some of you, even those really close to me, who’ve either not heard any of this before or never heard all of it.. And I do kinda apologize for you having to learn this way rather than me confiding in you personally. But, it’s just not something that comes easy for me to talk about. It’s taken me five years to even open up this much about it, so I hope you’ll bear with me for getting it out this way. It has nothing to do with lack of love or trust for you guys..
There.. It’s out.. Time to move on now..