I begin this new subheading for me. Alone in my mind, I feel apprehension. Recollecting on years past leaves me more empty than fulfilled. That thought alone is frightening.
For all the dreams and hopes to fade away as they do, I yearn for peace. This past couple of months on lockdown have unlocked a deep chest of secrets. Mysteries I never dreamed of confronting. I can’t turn it off or change a thing. I remain swirling in the seas of memory, and to not forget, I’m writing it down.
Looking back, I plunged into life, one swell after another. I knew the breathtaking pain of loss early on. That single loss would impact me forever. At only four years old, I knew comfort, shelter, steady, home. I recognized love as it surrounded me. One day, without warning, it was swept away. As I awaited my grandfather’s arrival, I proudly told my young friend, “My grandpa lives there. He will be here soon.”
Why do I remember that? I have asked myself a million times since that day.
Next thing I knew, my mom sat me on her lap on a lawn chair and told me he died and went to heaven. I remember looking up, staring for him in the blue sky. I would look up from that day on, wishing he would return and take me along. My grandfather never showed up; we were at his funeral reception.
I cried, jumping off her lap and ran to someone in the house, possibly my aunt. I see myself looking around the formal table, set with food and decor, and for the first time in my life, I was lost.
Most of my memories are beginning to fade. However, there a few that remain. Like eating chocolate-covered cherries, nine boxes deep in the fridge. He bought them on our trips downtown for his medical appointments. I remember the small table he set for one, and my daily breakfast of eggs, toast, and bacon, with coffee.
I remember the large can filled to the top of Lupini beans, soaking in the sink-an Italian snack. I remember my bouncing pony, the hutch outside the kitchen, and the beautiful furniture (by my standards) in the bedroom. We had ally cats in the shed, and I had a pink Cadillac, or something, pedal car. My most fond memory, though, is the snuggles on the couch and the smell of the man I loved.
It baffles me to this day the details I recall of those few years we had. My aunts tell me all the time, “He loved you the most.” I was one of five grandchildren before he passed.
He was a good man with bad habits. As I grew up, I would learn the truth about his drinking. Awe, it matters nothing to me. Because even drunk, with the aroma of the last of a night binge in my face, on a little red couch, I knew I was loved.
That, my friends, is what a four-letter word can do. The character of unconditional love is a gift. It blinds us to the truth. Yet, it simultaneously exposes us to the truth. There is no fear or disdain for what we learn. It is merely a part of our hearts. I accept the story as is. For even at four years old, I knew he loved me, as is.
I would soon learn why I knew that at a tender age. Within a couple of years, the tender would be ripped from me by this world in tragic ways. I had no idea what was in heaven, but I have spent the rest of my years wishing I could see.