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.