I am from Dusty Drawers

March 22, 2013
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The drawer groaned as I yanked on the tarnished silver handle. It opened very slowly, and when I finally coaxed it all the way open, I was greeted with a cloud of dust that rose from the drawer like smoke. Once the powdery dust settled, I began the task of sifting through the drawer, looking for anything worth saving from the house. The contents of that drawer had seen better days. Dried up spiders littered the corners of the drawer, and it was difficult to determine what was in the drawer because everything was covered with a thin layer of grime. There were a lot of papers. Yellowing and torn at the corners, they had children’s drawings on them with loving messages scribbled on them with crayon. The next thing I pulled out was a stack of photographs. Some were in old frames while others seemed to have been in an envelope or album that must have been lost to the depths of the drawer. I started flipping through them, but they all appeared to be distant relatives whom I’d never met. But then, I got to one of the last photographs, and something made me stop.

I think it was the eyes. Eyes that had a sparkle in them, yet still looked serious. I couldn’t tell what color they were because it was an old black and white photograph, but I wanted to guess that they were blue. I recognized those eyes, but I didn’t recognize the young man in the picture. He had a strong jaw and was smiling, almost like he was laughing at some sort of joke. He wore a light colored suit and had short dark hair. It looked like it had been professionally taken. A school picture, maybe? I wasn’t entirely sure, but then I found another photograph, this one of my grandpa, standing in his garden, laughing. It was slightly newer, still before my time, but when I held the two pictures out in front of me, I saw their eyes.

I immediately felt a wave of stupidity hit me. I should have known it was my grandfather. Now that I looked closer, I could see how obvious it should have been. He had the same expression on his face in that photograph as he had whenever I used to go to visit him. It was the face he made when he was laughing at one of his bad jokes or talking about his adventures in the navy. That’s why I hadn’t recognized him in the photo. I had seen photographs of my grandpa before, but he had always had a serious expression on his face, stern and looking straight at the camera. He didn’t smile in photographs if he knew they were being taken, but this one was different from the others. I wanted to smile back at him, but instead I began to cry.

Hot wet tears streamed down my face and splattered the photo, making the smiling face look as if it were crying too. The last time I had seen my grandpa he didn’t know who I was and he was definitely not smiling. I missed him so much, and looking at this picture made me feel closer to him than I had felt when he was still alive. He looked healthy and strong, just like how I wanted to remember him, and knowing that I would never get to see him like that again made the tears flow even faster.

My mom and I finished cleaning out my grandpa’s house a few days later. After we finished, we walked slowly to the car parked behind the house, saying our last goodbyes before the house would be refurbished and sold. When we finally got home, the first thing I did was unpack the one thing that I thought was worth keeping from that dead house. I put it on my dresser, outdated silver frame and all. Now I can see him whenever I want, and that makes the pain of his death a little less harsh. It doesn’t make me stop missing him, nothing will, but it makes me want to smile back at his picture, and even though it hurts, that is okay with me.

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