Monday, October 15, 2012

Oh, you again?

Oh, hello grieving's you again.

And just as I did three years ago in dealing with the loss of Denise, I've been greeted by the grief monster once again with the death of my grandfather earlier this week. I feel the same denial that I felt with her..the whole, "this can't be true.", "did that really just happen?" and even went back in to say goodbye to my grandpa fully expecting him to be in his lazy boy recliner just days after his passing.

Yup. Denial got me through this past week.

Now we're back in Wuxi, after the longest flight ever. Thirteen hours with a mobile baby is like wrestling a bag of snakes while playing the "operation" game. Trying not to touch the poor man sitting next to us for fear of making him "buzz" nasty comments or looks our way.

Oh, did I mention we just happened to take a trip home to the States?

Yup. Spent our first "golden week" holiday back home.

Party poopers.

We left for the U.S. on the 28th of September and had a jam packed first week home so that we could sail through the second week and enjoy life a bit. We figured that it was as good a time as any for Nick to get away from work here, since China basically shuts down for celebrations during the week, and then we added a week "vacation" to that, giving us plenty of time to shop enjoy the perks of home.

Our trip started off a bit rough. The day before we were to leave, Sal had a fever and was sounding like he had gurgling in his chest. We took our first trip to the E.R. to get it checked out--a chest X-ray later, we were told he had contracted a virus and that he'd be better soon.


We spent a wonderful weekend in southern CA at my grandparents house. My dad came to visit us and it was really nice to be with everyone and fill them in on life in China.

I'll do another blog post on what-we-did-in-California so I can fast forward to the end of the first week in CA and back to the subject of this post.

On Saturday of our second week, my sister called to tell us that my grandpa had been rushed to the hospital and was in ICU. At 91years-old, he could have been rushed there for many reasons, but we later learned he had suffered a heart attack. Sunday morning, around 11 we got another call. The message was clear, "come quick. Grandpa is not going home. Ever."  We spent the next two days glued to his side as his sons (my dad and his brothers) rolled in from out of town to be there for his last moments. I can not put into words what it was like to witness his final moments, so I won't even begin to try. All I can say is that my grandpa lived life to the fullest. I choose to remember the way his eyes lit up when Sal was brought in to the room, and how he gave us a good laugh with one of his "damn, I'm good" moments not more than an hour before he left this world.

But damn, this grieving business sucks.

Now that we're home, and I'm getting back to life as we know it here in China, it has sunk in that he's not coming back...and it stinks that we aren't able to be there for the spreading of his ashes, or for the
celebration of his life next week. Those things are not as important as the moments we got to spend with him--at least that's what I keep reminding myself.

How lucky (should I say lucky?) were we that we were actually in town and able to be there when it mattered most? We got to say goodbye. I got to hold his hand. I got to give him a kiss. I was there...

So, now I feel the second stage coming on--a little angry that he couldn't be saved. A little angry that I'm missing being there for my dad, grandma and uncles next week...but again...reminding myself that being angry is just part of this whole process, and we will be okay. If there's anything that I've learned from dealing with our own loss, it's how this whole grief things plays out.

Guess I better buckle up for the bumpy ride.

Here we go.


  1. Beautifully written Sis. It brought tears to my eyes. I am so thankful you, Nick & Sal were here and that we got to hold his hands, kiss him, love him til he took his last breath. I would not have wanted it any other way.. he loved us unconditionally, never judged and was always so proud of each of us.

    I love you

  2. i'm so sad about your grandpa. it is a very special blessing to have a grandparent live long enough into your own adult life that you get to know them as a real person - not just as the sort of mysterious elderly grandparents of your childhood.

  3. I'm so sorry about the loss of your grandpa. He sounds like an amazing man with a pretty amazing 91 years.

    I understand how you felt about being "lucky" to be in town, but so unlucky for such things to hurt your family. Not easy to explain, as it's hardly opportune or anything. :/

  4. Dear Brie,

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I don't know what it is like to have an elderly relative, so dare I be so bold as to say how blessed you were to have your Grandpa for so long? The oldest relative I've had is my (and your Aunt Diane's) Mom. She was 80 when she passed and we as a family were fortunate enough to be surrounding her when she took her last breath. It something that is so important ... to be with our deeply loved ones when they cross over to the other side. That will be close to your heart forever. Yes, you must feel emptiness not being there for the "pomp & circumstance" this week, but remember, that is for the survivors, NOT for the one that has passed. And I say with confidence that all of your Grandpa's survivors completely understand why you are not there with them this week.

    At the risk of sounding completely cliche, it is my hope for you that the memories of the good times with your Grandpa, bring you comfort during this difficult time. You are clearly strong, and you WILL get through this just like you have with other bumps in your life.

    Take care and keep your chin up!

    Karen S.

    1. Ahhh, thank you. So eloquently put. Everything you wrote is SO true...and you're absolutely ight..those moments with him will stay in my heart forever.

  5. What a beautiful written post. 'm so sorry for your loss!