It’s been over a week and I’m still not ready for this post. It’s hard to talk about, yet I know I can’t leave things unsaid with everything that I’ve been feeling throughout this time. A part of me dreads even the thought of writing this post for fear that I am officiating some type of forever goodbye, a goodbye that I’m just not ready for. But I also think that I need this for myself, to have some type of closure and to come to terms with my grandpa’s passing and to go through this healing process. Though he may not physically be here, doesn’t mean that I am going to forget about him or stop loving who he was.
Where do I even begin? How do I just say goodbye to such an important figure in my life, throughout my childhood and beyond? How do I just go about sharing the fact that my grandpa just passed away when a part of me is so unwilling to say it out loud myself? How can I come to terms that he passed in peace without having been able to see him one last time, hug him one last time or tell him that I’ll be back again in a couple of summers to visit him again?
For the longest time, death had always been such a foreign thing to me. I guess I could consider myself lucky that my grandparents have always had their health as I grew up and I never had to go through the pain of losing someone close to me. I knew eventually that I would have to face the loss of a loved one at one point in my life, but even with that in mind, can you ever really prepare yourself for something like that? I mean, parts of it still seem so strange to me. How can one person so full of life, so full of knowledge, joy, care and strength, be here one second and gone the next? It all still seems so surreal.
Every time our family goes back to Taiwan, it’s always been a time of happiness and fond memories-being reunited again with all of our relatives and beloved family members, exploring new places, a place of growth and independence and more importantly, my second home. This time coming back to Taiwan was much different-hearts heavy and full of pain and sorrow. For me, it was being unable to bear the sight of my dear grandma, watching even the strongest break down at his loss and the impact that he left on all of his family members alone, alongside the number of loved ones and friends that also came to his funeral.
There are a lot of things that I wish were different. Obviously I wish that this didn’t have to happen. I wish that I were there to see him one last time and be with him before he left. I wish I could have visited Taiwan more frequently. I wish that I had known that two summers ago when I last visited would also be the last time I would see him. I wish I would have hugged him a little harder that time. I wish I had written him more cards, called him more often. I wish I could take one more walk through the park with him, holding him every step of the way. I wish I had the time to grieve properly instead of having all of this happen the week of finals. I wish that I could have stayed in Taiwan to be with family longer, rather than flying out for a day. I wish I didn’t have other travel obligations that interfere during a time that I need and want to be with all of my relatives. I wish that I could stop crying. I wish for many of these things, but I know that my grandpa only would have wanted me to work hard in school and succeed, he would have been so happy to see his granddaughters from America come and visit, and he would have wanted us all to go on in peace without him and take good care of 阿媽。
I want to dedicate the rest of this post to my dear grandpa, who I still remember so vividly—playing with me, always cracking jokes or teasing me, tickling me so hard that I nearly peed my pants, the way he said “安安！” every time he saw me for the first time every couple of summers, his cheery smile, solving a riddle in 2 seconds that I couldn’t figure out on my own, him waiting on the street and greeting me with a huge sigh of relief that one time I told him me and my sister had gotten off the wrong bus stop and were lost, playing a game of chess with him that I knew I would never win (and usually would have to let my younger cousin play for me), helping me figure out the location of a street on his good old map so I could go shopping, and simply for being such a huge part of my happiness every time I go back to visit.