Shh. You didn't hear that, did you? It was a small sound, like a ripple in a pond. It was a universe dying. Today my grandpa took his last breath. I feel ill prepared to deal with death. It waxes and wanes and if you're not in it, it tends to keep its distance, lurks around corners and pops out without giving you a chance to reconcile the transition of warm hands and scruffy kisses on the cheek to cold hands that seem distantly familiar, or a mouth that turns to quick sand and falls into itself. I will never hear that deep Southern drawl again, singing songs, laughing his deep laugh that came from all the way down in the bottom of his belly. He'll never be able to tell me about that time he lassoed a whole herd of bees and drove them from one side of the country to the other. Never tell me how him and grandma were masters of the Jitterbug. Never sing the baby bayou song. I can hear his voice in my mind, but I'll never be able to hear it out loud again. His plants won't be watered, no one will write on his calendar and I'll never again pop one of his warm tomatoes in my mouth from right off the vine. No more ice cream cones or dill pickles.
The thing is, he was ready. But when he left today I maybe feel more sad for us. There were so many questions whose answers died with him. Promises of future visits, and excuses for putting off visits. He was so big; big voice, big hands, big deep belly laugh. He felt immortal. How does a great big being exist my whole life time and beyond, then just flicker out? A universe died today. It took with it questions and answers and comfort and worry and wondering. I wasn't ready yet. The sound was so quiet, you may not have felt it. But it's rumbling through me. And for the life of me, I can't figure out where to put all this.