Shit ain't funny, part the fourth.
"Hellooooo," I singsonged as I entered the house. I was just coming home from a particularly exhausting dance class. I was hyper the way that only physical activity can make you hyper.
No one answered me. Instead I found my sister and parents gathered around the living room table. My mother was fidgeting with her hands. I couldn't see my father's face. Vyelit was looking at me disapprovingly.
"Didn't you get my text message?" Vyelit asked. I glanced down at my phone and saw no new notifications.
I waited. No one seemed in a rush to tell me anything.
"Papà died," Vyelit said finally. Two words exhaled. My father put his head down and was soon lost in his swallowed sobs.
I could only think one thing: are you kidding me?
For those of you following along at home, last month, we found out that an act of violence has left my little sister expecting. Two days later, and just before Christmas, my grandmother died. Here we are, less than a month later and now my grandfather has joined his vieja.
God damn the timing, right? I mean, this news just when things were getting a little better. It made this loss hurt much worse. Then again, I'm so tired of hurting, that I found myself quickly pushing it all aside. Everything is okay. Everything is okay. Things were just getting better.
I almost didn't write this post. I almost didn't say a word, because the last thing I want to hear is another condolence. That's a horrible thing to say and I'm sorry. But I mean it. I'm tired of this entire process and the predetermined things one must say and the very acceptable way one must act. The more bad things happen, the more fault I find in grieving.
All anyone wants to do is help, I know, but I'm not a talker. I'm not an emote-r. I'm not a sharer. And yet I can't escape the question, "how are you doing?" It's always spoken with Very Serious Eyes and perhaps one hand on my shoulder.
I want to scream at people, tell them to notice how hard this is
I want to scream at people, beg them to please leave me alone. Stop bringing it all up.
Every question becomes stupid.
How do you think my family is doing?
If we weren't close, does it mean he's less dead?
Please, you tell me what you could possibly do.
And now, I'm actually very sorry. I'm being unfair. I'm being mean. Grief is unfair and mean.
The less I express, the more the emotions exhaust and consume me.
The more I write, the more reviling I find all of these emotions. I write them and they seem foreign. They seem trite.
If someone says a joke and I laugh, I feel so bad because life just keeps on going.
If someone says a joke and I laugh, I feel so much better because life really does keep on going.
There is no winning. And so goes grief.
Grief is lived. It is woven in all the normal moments that comprise your days. You cannot stop for it. It is impossible to identify the edges of grief. You cannot talk it away. You cannot pass it on to others, no matter how sorry they are. Grief is lived.
I almost didn't write this post because grief is fleeting. Capturing it seems a silly thing to do. But it didn't seem fair to the man I called Papà.
I wish I could tell you how many children he had, but even after 25 years, I still don't have that family tree clear. He had some kids, my grandmother had some kids, they had some kids together, and then of course, there were the strays he always seemed to pick up. He was a father to them all.
Their story is one that is mired in the mixed up memories of the aged. Things don't add up. He must've had more than one woman at one point, we're sure, but who are we do bring it up? He long ago repented. He long ago found forgiveness from his wife. He long ago found peace with his God.
It's a reoccurring joke amongst the Valverde family cousins that we've never seen Papà young. There are no pictures or memories. He's always been the balding, pot bellied grandfather who loved to garden and "fix" things, even when everyone wished he would just sit still and not touch anything. He could never sit still.
My grandfather said the same things to me every time I saw him. He would say how proud he was of all his grandkids. He would say how good looking we all were. He would make sure we knew we got it from him.
He knew two phrases in English: "you monkey" and "you ugly."
I visited his house in the Dominican Republic once. I felt like a princess sleeping in the bed that also fit both my sisters. I didn't understand that the net was to keep the bugs out.
My sister Vyelit, on the night we got the news, observed that we no longer have any grandparents. It thought it a weird thing to say, but perhaps the thought just made me uncomfortable. My parents are the grandparents now. When exactly did that happen?
Although I'm tired of bad news, it didn't seem fair that that would mean that Papà would go unremembered.
Thank you all for reading and listening. I know I haven't left you with much to say.
Everything is okay.
Things were just getting better.