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Poppy This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I wonder, is it possible to not think?
Because I don’t think I had a single thought as I sat in silence, listening to my mom and her sisters discussing whether or not Poppy was going to die with the nurse. I suppose I should have been in tears or that I could say that I was in shock but I wasn’t. I wasn’t numb with pain or choked with sorrow, I was just sitting in the chair listening and wondering when they’d be done.
Now you think I’m a horrible person, right? Well, I don’t know if I am or not, but Poppy had been in the hospital and on his deathbed, I don’t know how many times, so forgive me if I wasn’t thinking of all the things we should have done while we still had the time.
With the diabetes he got in his teens, my grandfather had lived long past the time anyone thought he would, lived to a ripe old age, he did. And now he was in the hospital with pneumonia, so I wasn’t that concerned.
I saw him when he was in ICU, that was…terrifying, he was surrounded by machines and wires and tubes. I hated seeing him like that, it was vulnerable and personal and I felt like I was trespassing in someone else’s life.
You see, Poppy was my grandfather, but to me, he was also a stranger. The medications he was on, made him mean a lot of the time and my mom didn’t want me to be around that, so we didn’t go to see him that often. And about half the time we did, he wasn’t there with us, and almost every time he was ill.
And so I grew to hate going to see him, because to me, he was just a stranger I was related to by blood. He was a stranger who I had to go see when he was sick, who I had to kiss and hug and tell that I loved him.

Who I had to let hug me back.

That sickly stranger, whose name I know, whose blood I have running in my veins and whose image I will carry with me always. He only lived a city away but I didn’t know him and I didn’t like him.
I saw my mother’s pain whenever she talked about him, he was not a kind man, I do know that. My mom never talked about him except to say that he was sick again and it was time to go see him. Now when she talks about him, she says what he was really like, he was not a kind man. That’s not to say he was evil, I’m sure other people have good stories to tell about him, I just haven’t heard any.

He died.

When I found out, I felt that detached sorrow you feel when you hear that someone you don’t know died. As I said, he was a stranger. But I remember the funeral.
There were so many people there, and I remember my mom’s face, when I saw how sad she was and tried to give her a hug. It hurt when she pulled away but I knew she was hurting worse than I was.
Looking back, I feel almost ridiculous; I was sitting next to my cousin, Hannah. Hannah knew Poppy, she saw him a lot. I’m not sure if I envy her for her relationship with him or not, at least she got to know her grandfather. But I remember telling her that it was okay if she needed to cry, it wouldn’t bother me, and that if she needed to go to the restroom to calm down I would go with her.

Talk about irony.

She didn’t shed a tear; I was the one who ended up crying so hard I could barely breathe, not the other way around. But there was so much pain, everyone there loved him, some of them didn’t like him, but they all loved him. The air in the room was so heavy…
I met family I didn’t even know I had.
He was buried in Wako, I don’t know where and I really don’t know why, all the time that I knew him, he lived in San Antonio.
When he died, I realized that I don’t know what I believe in, as far as the afterlife is concerned. That was all I could really seem to think about during the funeral, well, that and how I really couldn’t believe he was dead. I wanted to believe in heaven like I was raised but…I wasn’t sure that I did, I’m still not sure. But that was all I seemed able to think about. That and the fact that I was running low on Kleenex and I really needed some more.

I miss him, strange as that seems, I loved him too.



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