At the beginning of January, I flew down to Texas to visit my grandparents, my dad's parents. (My dad has a blog, too. You can see it here.)
Let me preface. My grandfather, my Papa, is sick. He has carcinoid tumors in his liver. They're not spreading anywhere. The biggest effect it has on him is that it makes him anemic, weak, and easily tired. He also can't eat things that he used to, which is a bummer.
Before I visited last month, the last time I'd seen him was more than a year ago, at my college graduation. My dad told me to prepare myself, that he wouldn't look the same.
And I did that. I tried to tell myself that it had been a year, a tough year. He'd been hospitalized a couple of times.
But what I saw at the airport shocked me, I'll be honest. He looked so pale, so thin and fragile. I had to consciously stop the look of shock I felt creeping across my face, and I'm not entirely sure I succeeded.
A couple of weeks prior, I talked to him on the phone, and I asked him how he was doing. I'd asked him this question before, (obviously!) and the normal answer is something generic like "I'm doing okay." You know, the thing you tell people when you either don't want to tell the truth, or you don't have anything else to say.
This time his answer was, "I'm not well."
I'm not well.
He's the type of person who's been strong for his family, a provider, etc. And I'm his granddaughter. He'd never been weak for me. Ever. And here he was on the phone. . . I'm not well.
I know this is the normal process of life. We grow old, our bodies break down. My head knows this. And my head knows that he'll go home to heaven.
But my heart doesn't know this. My heart is breaking. My heart is breaking because I don't have any idea when I'll see him again, any idea of how long it'll be before. . . It's breaking because I miss him already, because of how much I know it'll hurt later.
And despite how much I tell myself the above logical statements, the pain of the unknown will still stay with me. And most of the time, I try not to think about it. It's easier that way. But every once in a while, at the most inconspicuous parts of the day, like when I was putting a bagel in the toaster this morning, it hits me, it pierces my heart and I can't help but tear up.
This seems to happen to me a lot. My head knows something that it can't make my heart understand. And my heart breaks anyway.