by Shira Perton
Waking up Friday morning to a text that my grandfather had passed away was one of the weirdest moments I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t know what to feel. No movie had prepared me for it, no class I’ve ever taken, no advice from parents. What do you do? This person was here yesterday, even twenty minutes ago and now… they just aren’t. A million thoughts flooded my mind and once I gathered them, what I felt was that I was not lucky enough to know what I was supposed to be missing. How can you be sad about something when you don’t know what that something is?
My last clear memory of my grandfather was my 6th-grade graduation. He came to visit because my sister and I were graduating consecutively from elementary and high school. He was a pretty cool guy. His height gave him the appearance of a giant who had experienced much more than my short self had, and the crow’s feet around his eyes depicted many memories he was fondly reliving. This man was important to my life – heck, he’s a huge reason as to why I am here today. We went on a walk around the block and talked about school, what I liked about French, my hobbies, etc. One part that stuck was that I love art, and the next day, upon walking off the podium of childhood, he handed me a coloring set that would carry me through the tough hallways of high school. And that was that. Bye grandpa. I called him a couple of times, and by a couple I mean many, but life is busy and I’m horrible at leaving messages and would ramble to his answering machine often, I hope he was smiling. I wish he answered.
This wasn’t something I thought about. It was such a distant concept. My father’s father, my grandfather. And now that he’s suddenly gone, I’m filled with an unrecognizable sense of longing to know this man that I have no knowledge about. I think the one thing that hits us the hardest when someone we know passes away is all the could haves, the should haves, all the time we could have spent getting to know them, living life with meaning or just being more present. And that’s the funny thing about time is that it’s this one thing in life I have not managed to control yet.
Yes, my grandfather passed away, and it’s honestly horrible that I will never be able to foster a relationship I envy within the ones I see all the time, yet the important lesson I gained is that I can take advantage of my time here. In this fast pace world that we live in, everything instant, everyone’s attached, we seem to have lost sight in the importance of just sitting and spending time with those who matter, because before we know it, our friends are moving on to different life goals, mountains, and we’re all souring to different areas in the world. Before we know it, we’re 70-years-old and bumping into friends that we were in college with years ago, trying to fragment some form of a timeline to fill each other in on the time we’ve lost out on. Let’s not do that. Let me reiterate: let’s never do that.
I know we think that we are superhumans who can handle it all, I’m definitely one of those who thinks she can manage everything, but I’ve come to realize that no matter how hard I try, that I am in fact not a wizard, and on top of that I’m no Hermione Granger, and therefore I’ll never own a time turner. I can’t go back and make a relationship with this mountain of a man I called Grandpa, but I can work on those that are around me now.
Waking up Sunday morning, the day my grandfather was buried, I was not sad. There was a definite sense of longing, and there was something else there too. There was a new desire to spend more time, slow down for the long walks in the park and not to just walk by them. There was hope to pay attention more to the stories that were walking around me and listen, appreciate and grow from each of them. There was this new found craving to be present and there for those that were around me and the ones and to reach out to ones I gave up on. It made me realize that yes, I have no idea what I lost, and I may not own a time turner and I may never learn how to control time. What I can do is do my best to live my life to the fullest and take advantage of those that are not just a phone call away.
Grandpa David, if you’re reading this, I hope you know I will be thinking of you every day. Your silence has taught me that even the quietest of people can leave the loudest impression.