Author: Robert Poposki
Life Goes on
It’s been about four months now since my grandfather died.
The news came as a shock. As soon as I had a missed call from my mum however, I knew something was wrong. She never calls me during the day, it could only be bad. All she could manage to blurt out was that I should probably come over, as he didn’t have long. The first thing that shot into my mind was how I had tickets to see Russell Brand perform that night. My plans would be ruined.
After visiting my grandfather at his house, and seeing him lie on what would soon become his death-bed, I felt numb, and sick, and filled with what I can only describe as a desire for escape.
It was still summer back then, so the day was warm and unpleasant, and this carried on through into the night. My girlfriend was working, so when I got home from visiting my grandfather, I was alone, and waiting. Waiting for her to finish work, and waiting for something else I knew would soon come.
Instinctively, I ambled over to the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of whiskey, and poured myself a full glass. There, I sat on the couch, staring into empty space for the next half hour, sipping on the yellow poison intermittently.
An hour passed.
I grabbed the still half full cup of whiskey, and flung it against my bike, which was leaning against the wall. The glass shattered into five large pieces, and countless tiny ones. All I could do from then on was sit, and stare, until Nat got home.
She looked at the shattered glass sprawled out across the carpet, and then looked up at me. There’d been word that grandfather might be ill a few weeks back, but we didn’t think so much of it, considering the doctor’s rather glib analysis, and my grandfather’s staunch mindset to not cooperate with medical staff so to allow further testing. Nat didn’t have to put two and two together, she realised what the case had become immediately. She sat by my side, asked me if he was okay, to which I responded, “It’ll be a week or two.”
We still went to Russell Brand, because there was another friend of mine coming along, and I don’t like disappointing people. That, and I thought it’d probably be a good idea to try and take my mind off of things. “Things.”
It didn’t work.
After the show, we decided that we’d walk most of the way home, as there were too many people around the arena, and not enough cabs. All I remember about the experience was feeling scared, alone, and cold, despite how warm a night it was.
The other thing I remember was how desperately I wanted to fling myself in front of an oncoming car. Anyone who experiences depression will understand how heavy this urge for non-existence can become, and how, if you’re not careful, how easy it would be to give in to its will.
I told Nat how I was feeling so to warn her. We’ve been together for years, so she understands how my mind can work. Never though, had she seen me in such a state. Without words, she grabbed my hand, made sure that we weren’t walking too close to the road, and also that her body was between the road and me.
By this stage, the night had totally fallen, and because I didn’t have my glasses on, the lights beaming from oncoming traffic looked like small clouds of sun. Yellow, red, white – they all seemed to be taunting me. Screaming at me, demanding that I jump into the light of death, without fear.
I’d look up at Nat every so often, just to remind myself that there was still someone on this earth who understood me, or, at least a large part of me that somehow, most of the world missed: The part of me that is raw and real; the part of me that essentially makes me, me. The part of me that only her and my grandfather have really seen.
I don’t know what happened in one of those fleeting moments, during which we were on our way home; I couldn’t begin to tell you. All I know is that something within me clicked, as if to say, “Nope, not today, asshole. Not today.”
Running with this feeling then, I let go of Nat’s hand, and put myself between her and the oncoming traffic, almost as if to convince my self of the feeling’s authority. “Fine, okay. Not today.” She let out a little squeal, and tried to hug at my torso, fearing what she thought I was about to do. I looked up at her, and said, “lady, I don’t like you walking next to the road, you know that.” She grabbed my hand again, and looked into my eyes. I forced a smile, and told her that it was fine. She asked, “sure?” And I nodded.
When my grandfather died, I felt that my life was over. He’s the only person I’ve ever felt unconditional love from within the confines of blood-consanguinity. He made up for such a large and elemental part of me that when he died, most of me died with him.
But over the past four months, though the thought of his face can bring me to my knees, I realised something. I realised that life is like a book. Before it is borne into life, it is thought of as an idea, it is conceived. Then, it is written, word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph, chapter-by-chapter. Then it is read. And then, put to rest.
Wherein lies the key I wasn’t necessarily missing, but couldn’t at all grasp in that time of immense pain:
Moving on isn’t just a part of life. It is life.
Life will always go on, regardless of how its course is to be, or where its course is to lead. When he died, a lot of me died with him. Yes. And there’s no going back from this point. However, what is also true, is that a lot “me” dies everyday.
I am constantly killing off parts of myself to let other aspects grow. The parts of us that whither away into nothingness aren’t always nefarious, or evil. Sometimes it’s the most cherished parts of us that need to move on. And although this process of letting go what we hold near and dear to our hearts is often the most painful side to it all, it is also, in a strange way, the most beautiful. Because what inevitably remains, can never be taken away.
It’s a manic world.