On Monday I went to my great uncle Bill’s funeral. I really only saw Bill at family reunions, and we might have chatted over lukewarm pasta salad, but I was primarily going to support my family. Not that I was unsympathetic at all, but I definitely lacked some empathy because I’ve never experienced a personal loss to death like some of my cousins at the funeral who had just lost their grandpa.
Interruption: Why do we say ‘lost’ anyway? People aren’t chapstick. Just a thought.
At the cemetery where he was buried, we looked around at other stones and found the one belonging to my great-grandparents and also my Grandpa Adrian, who died long before I was even born. But it was like seeing that stone stirred something up in me…like I suddenly recognized for the first time that Grandpa Ade was a real person. We watched a slideshow of Bill’s life (Ade’s brother) and a saw this stud of man in a navy uniform who looked like my dad and uncle. He had wavy hair and ears that stuck out a little. “Oh look, there’s Adrian!” people said. I heard all these stories about him and his fiery personality (so that’s where I get it from…) and how he was full of humor and the center of attention.
I was hit with sadness because I realized I was mourning for the grandpa I never met. And I finally had a very slight understanding of what it’s like to miss someone in that way. I wonder if we would like the same things…like peaches and chocolate and rocking chairs and sass. One of these days I’ll find out. Until then, I’ll just assume we would have been best friends.