Too Young

April 5, 2011
When you’re little you tend to take things for granted, not realize how lucky you are to have them. Yet when they leave you don’t really understand that they’re gone forever. Then years later when you suddenly realize you will never see someone or hear them talk to you ever again it can be depressing, and make you want to cry. You realize that you didn’t appreciate a person when you should’ve, when they loved you and cared about you. These thoughts start to haunt you and everything reminds you that you weren’t sad when you should’ve been. This happened with my grandfather. He died when I was only five and I was too young to really understand. My mom went to check on him one morning and he was motionless on the floor. Grandpa Fred had passed in his sleep, and I would never see him again.

At the funeral I wasn’t sad. I remember playing with my cousin while everyone else was mourning. It was a chilly day, the sky was a dreary gray color and the wind was like ice on our necks. The person managing the funeral made me stand among everyone else for a few minutes, to ‘say goodbye’ I assume, but once I could escape from the boredom, I immediately ran off to play princesses, or something frivolous like that, with my cousin who was also five at the time.

The area we were playing in looked ‘magical’ and mysterious, or at least that’s how I remember it. There was a big oak tree with a few big scraggly bushes around it and many interesting stones scattered about that were perfectly shaped and had writing on them. Everyone else was standing in what resembled a circle looking forlornly at the dirt, while listening to a man I had never met drone on and on about who knows what. I thought it looked like a very boring way to waste people's time and would much rather play among the bushes and stones nearby. The grass crunched under our feet, but I wasn’t cold because my mom had made me bundle up in many warm layers.

After the funeral we went out to eat and I remember we were sitting in a roundish corner in a booth. It was surrounded by huge windows that let a lot of light in. I could see the gray, miserable sky outside, and a big maple tree nearby. It must’ve been fall because I remember many of its branches were bare. The ground around it was littered with brown leaves and I longed to go outside and jump in them, but I wasn’t allowed to.

Years later, when I was probably in third grade, I realized I would never see my grandfather again. For the past few years I had avoided talking about him because it made my mother sad. After this realization I felt ashamed. I hadn’t cried once at his funeral, and when everyone else was grieving and sad, I was carefree and happy. For about a year after this, many little things made me upset or feel ashamed. I remember I was swimming in the pond in front of our house and I lost a pool noodle or something unimportant like that and my dad got mad and I felt terrible. Whenever I thought of it, I was filled with this huge sense of guilt that unsettled me and made it hard to sleep. I cried sometimes, over silly things like that and the next morning my eyes would be dry and puffy, but the feeling stayed. No matter how much I cried, it seemed like I would never rid myself of this horrible guilt.

Eventually I realized how stupid and ignorant it was. I’d never done anything wrong yet I felt extremely guilty, and for what, I had no idea. I realized I was only five and shouldn’t have been expected to understand. Couldn’t have possibly realized that I would never see my Grandfather again. It wasn’t my fault, yet I’d convinced myself that I should’ve been sad, and because I wasn’t I told myself I’d done something wrong. I understood that I needed to move on, and did.

I have a picture of me sitting on my Grandpa’s lap when I was maybe 3 or 4. I used to associate this with a memory of sorrow and sadness. Now whenever I come across it I smile at the warm memories it brings back. Sure, I wish my Grandfather hadn’t died when I was so little, but there’s nothing I could’ve done to prevent it. I have moved on, but I haven’t forgotten.





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