I had a dream last night...it was one of those dreams where you don't know you're dreaming. Everything was so real...tactile....I was at my Grandparents house and something had happened at the neighbors house. There were police, ambulances and EMT's everywhere. As I scanned the scene I saw three stretchers sitting side by side, and lying on those stretchers were three black body bags, zipped closed and being guarded by some paramedics. I ran over to ask what had happened, of course I got no answer. I sat down on the curb and began crying....no one would give me answers and these were people I had known all my life. There was also the fact that I had just lost my Grandpa and this scenario was hashing up all those emotions as well. Suddenly the scene changed...the crisis was over and I was at a memorial block party to celebrate the lives of my Grandfather and these neighbors from earlier in the dream. I was standing there talking to some neighbor that was offering their condolences, I don't take pity well so I was looking at my feet, I heard my name and when I looked up there he was, my Grandpa. He was standing there wearing his black slacks, a University Honda shirt and his trademark blue wind breaker. My mouth fell open in shock...I reached out and touched his coat just to make sure he as real. He wasn't a ghost...I could touch him, I could smell him....in that moment I realized I was dreaming and started to wake up. As I woke Grandpa slowly started fading...I fought to stay asleep, but nothing worked. I begged Grandpa to stay with me and right as everything went black I swear I heard "I love you"....When I woke up, everything was normal. Brian was laying next to me snoring softly and Bella was curled up against my back, but I never felt so alone. I had to shove my face into my pillow to keep from waking Brian. I couldn't control the sobbing. I wanted so desperately to go back to the dream, back to a world where my Grandpa...my "Dad" still existed! I finally fell back to sleep, but the dream was gone. When I woke up this morning I remembered every detail of the dream. The way things felt, the way they smelled, the way Grandpa's jacket made a crinkling sound when I touched it....this dream, unlike so many others, has stayed with me all day. It has haunted me, so to speak. I understand the dream though, I have still not fully dealt with the loss of my Grandpa. I have been trying to stay strong for my Grandma and for my children....but I am losing that strength, and the sadness is finding it's way to the surface.
When I saw the missed call from Grandma on the morning of November 3rd and heard the stress in the voicemail she had left me, I just assumed that one of the kids was causing her grief or that Grandpa had done something to upset her and she wanted to vent. What I did not expect was the words that came out of her mouth when she answered her phone and realized it was me..."Papa passed away last night." In that second my whole world collapsed...I couldn't speak. Grandma was very calm, but I could hear the heartbreak in her voice and I knew that it was true. She asked me to come pick up the boys because the police were there and she didn't want them to see anything. I hung up and lost it....when I went to wake Brian I couldn't even get the words out right. All I could manage was "Grandpa died last night"....I still don't believe it even when I say now. I still don't believe it when I pull up to Grandma's house...I still expect to see Grandpa standing in the driveway to greet me. He was such a vital part of my life and now he's gone! He was my "Dad" in all the ways that mattered....he taught me how to ride a bike, how to drive a car, he was there for all the milestones in my life...there are so many milestones left to be had and he won't be here for any of them. The one thing I really wish he could have seen is me finally being healthy again. I know he and Grandma had been worried this past year regarding my health. I sometimes wonder if that wasn't a contributing factor to his death, all that added stress and worry over me could not have been good for Grandpa's heart.
I never imagined that Halloween night would be the last time I would see my Grandpa. We had gone over there to take the boys trick-or-treating just like every year. Grandpa went with them for the first go around, but he got cold and tired so he came back to the house and sat with me while I handed out candy. If I had known that this would be our last visit I would have told him I loved him, I would have hugged him when we left, I would have made sure that he knew just how vital a presence he was in my life....I know in my head that we never know how much time we have left, but my heart can't accept the fact that I didn't take advantage of every moment we had on Halloween. We sat there on the porch talking about the most random topics. None of them were important...most of them were rather pointless, but we were laughing and sneaking candy when Grandma wasn't looking, so I guess those last memories are good ones and that is what really counts! The lesson I have learned through all the losses I have suffered in my life is to not take anyone for granted.....savor every moment because it very well could be your last!
I will love and miss my Grandpa every minute of every day, but I know that he is watching over me from Heaven........and when it is finally my time to join him I hope he's still wearing that old blue windbreaker!