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I inspected every detail in his face; his nose, his mouth. I traced the wrinkles on his forehead with my eyes. My hands fidgeted at my waist as I stared at his face, almost make-believe. It wasn’t like I’d ever witnessed him before. I didn’t like looking at his face without a smile on it. I was immune to his smile- it was permanent. I couldn’t process the fact that I’d never get to see it again.
“Come on honey, we have to go,” my mom whispered into my ear.
“Okay, I’ll be right there,” I replied, with sadness in my tone.
The last time I would be able to see my grandpa was now; at his wake, and I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. I knew I was going to miss him beyond belief.
A few days later, the day of the funeral of my dad’s dad, my Grandpa John, had arrived. Thoughts were spinning through my head as the butterflies hatched in my stomach. I didn’t have any idea what was going to happen because this was the first funeral I’d ever been to. My family and I, packed into our car, soon arrived at the church my grandfather and grandmother were members of. We spilled out of the doors and on to the pavement beneath the wheels of our car. We climbed the stairs and I grasped the handle of the door. I felt the chill of the cold handle shoot up my arm. I pulled the door open for me to slip through and hold it open for my brothers following behind me. I meandered through the monstrous doors in the front of the church and walked down the aisle between the rows of pews, dragging my toes on the floor with every step I took. My eyes caught a glimpse of all my family’s friends; I couldn’t believe how much they cared about us. They were all here with us to think about and remember someone who took up an enormous space in our hearts.
My family and I shuffled into our seats and leaned on to the wooden backs of the chairs. The church was amazing; rows and rows of pews, a gigantic lobby where we entered in to, and plenty of space in the front of the church for the priest and all the others in the church. The priest spoke about my grandpa as well as other people that were close to him. My dad was one of them. My dad expressed everything he had on his mind about my grandpa. I could tell how much he loved my grandpa by the way he spoke about him. I wiggled my toes inside my shoes as I became antsy listening to my father speak about him; the man I would never get to see again; never get to spend more time with; to do art projects with; the man I wouldn’t be able to grow up with.
As my dad went on about his dad, I thought back to how wonderful he really was. I was still young and didn’t get to spend much time with him, but even now, as a little girl; I knew how wonderful he was. Although I was only in 2nd grade and didn’t get to spend much time with him, I could still remember my special memories with him. Grandpa John was an artist as well as his wife, my grandma. I remember in 1st grade, my class had a “Secret Santa” gift exchange and everyone was required to make a gift for another randomly chosen person in the class. My grandpa helped me construct a Santa Claus puppet. We devoted multiple nights into that puppet. We chopped the wood, pasted it together, cut the strings, attached them to the arms and legs to make them move, and finally, we painted it to make it appear as Santa Claus. The final outcome was great. I knew the person I was giving it to would love it because I wanted to keep it for myself! It looked just like Santa with his cherry cheeks and bushy white beard. It looked fantastic. I loved doing art projects with my grandpa and I loved spending time with him. He was amazing.
The memory brought a smile to my face until I remembered where I was sitting. I lifted my head to look up at my father still standing in front of all of the church speaking to us about his dad. I saw that he started to cry. All of a sudden, I felt the tears stinging my eyes as well. I didn’t want to cry. I didn’t think I would. I thought I had used up all my tears at home when I heard the horrible news. I didn’t think I had anymore left to cry out.
“It’s okay,” my mom whispered. I leaned into her as a couple tears trickled across my cheeks.
“It’s not fair,” I mumbled under my tears. I wiped a tear away from dripping on to my shirt.
“I know honey, but it’s okay to cry.” She brushed the hair out of my face and kissed my forehead.
My father finished what he had to say and sauntered back to the seat beside my mom. All of the people who had come to support my family started towards the front of the church to receive a communion wafer. One after another, they took the wafer and made their way back to their seats. I watched each person pass as they returned to their seats. Each person glimpsed at us and nodded or smiled. I could tell they cared. My sight was becoming blurry as my eyes filled with tears. Soon enough, they were flowing down my face. I couldn’t stand the fact that he was gone- I would never get to see him again.
Soon after the ceremony ended, we departed for the cemetery where my grandpa would be buried. The doors unlocked. I slowly pushed it forward. I stepped my right foot out, followed by my left. I pulled myself up to a standing position, spun around, and pushed the door closed again with my left hand. I turned back around to catch up with my brothers and soon fell into the rhythm of their steps. They were slow steps- almost like in slow motion. I didn’t look up as we made our way over to the crowd of people circled around my grandpa’s coffin. I just stared at my feet. Each step I took, my feet sunk into the moist grass, wet from the previous night’s rain and morning dew. I still couldn’t believe where I was and what was sitting on the grass right in front of me.