Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Passing on

I'm not sure where to start. My Grandpa Brinkerhoff passed away on Sunday. It's heart-breaking and glorious. Heart-breaking to have him suffer with Parkinson's and dementia for more than a year; glorious because he can finally be at peace and regain what was taken from him.

Maybe it's because I'm still a little fragile from having a baby; maybe it's because I feel so far away from my religion right now, but I was holding my brand new Norah in my arms when my mom told me he died and I just couldn't help thinking that life is a bitch. Not very poetic, is it?

Let me explain. My little girl is perfect, amazing, incredible--every good adjective you could ever think of. I have so much hope and anticipation for what she can become. The problem is that I can't stop life from happening to her. And with life comes hurt, disappointment, illness, pain. What sort of hopes did my grandpa's parents have for him? Certainly not a drawn-out battle with Parkinson's. Does this even make sense?

But here's how I think I'm coming to terms with it: Last week Norah grabbed a rattle and sat there with it in her hand, studying it with those blue eyes that I made in my body, until she finally thought hard enough to get her brain to tell her hand to get that rattle in her mouth. I wanted to cheer I was so excited for her. Just that one moment was pure joy for me. And the thing is: I get to enjoy those moments every day. How excited am I going to be when she walks, talks, goes to school? So just because my most recent memories are of a frail grandpa who was on his way out of this life, that doesn't take away the fact that his life was full of joy too. That's how his death--or anyone's--makes sense to me. Because no matter what bad things happen, life is full of so much amazingness that I can barely take it in. That's why the pain is worth it. And that's why I have every reason to celebrate each moment.

I know this is nothing new, and I rarely get this serious on my blog, but there you go.

On a lighter note, can I just tell you how for years and years my grandpa has always had the same little catch phrases? Things like: "It will quit hurting when it gets better." "When I was a little girl..." [followed by any number of stories]. And "That's a well-kissed cheek!" [said after each greeting and a dozen or so kisses].

And for those of you who don't know, I had a goat when I was little because my grandpa got me one. I honestly don't know why, but I think it's kind of the greatest thing ever--except when it ate the tassels off my Big Wheel. (I wonder what my parents thought.) One time we came home and there was a rabbit in a box for me on the kitchen floor. He also gave me a rooster that my dad ended up giving to a neighbor because it would wake him up at sunrise. And those are just the ones I can remember.

I hope that those are the sort of things that gave him joy, because they sure made me happy. And that's how I hope to remember him.


Alissa Rae King said...

and this is why people who become parents suddenly seem to want everyone else to become parents. how can you really see the world clearly without being intimate friends with the circle of life?

so now, not only do you live your life different for norah, but because you have her you now understand what your grandfather wanted for baby YOU and filled your life with a goat and a rabbit and wonder, and you will live your life for him too.

it's a sad and beautiful world and I wouldn't enjoy it as much as I do without you to cry and laugh with me. I'm so proud of you and this post. now go kiss the fat rattle holding fist for me!

e.m. said...

you know, you're amazing with words. it's good to see all sides of erin. i envy your memory - the little things you can recall that seem so personal and meaningful.
what a lucky norah - to have a mother and father who have so much to provide for her. so much to offer.