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28 March, 2010

Gone, Like Yesterday Is Gone

Having lived over seventy exceptional years, my grandfather had two milestones he always said he was living for: my college graduation and, my wedding. These symbolized the things he valued the most in life – a good education and, family. Though he lived thousands of miles away, he was my number one champion in school and in life. When I visited, we would sit on the couch together, him hugging me fiercely, tears streaming down his face, promising he would live to see me graduate and to dance at my wedding. I was his first and, favorite, grandchild. When I was younger, I would squirm uncomfortably while he told me all that he wanted for me in life. I shied away from his emotional talks, preferring his playful side, when he told me secrets about my dad’s childhood or, stories from his days as a doctor.

As I grew older and realized that he would not be around forever, I treasured his talks, encouraged that he had goals which he lived for, that he was so determined to be at my wedding meant he would be around for years to come. The night before I left Armenia last, five years ago, I stopped at the church near my grandparent’s house. As I lit a candle near the altar, I wished to come back in a year to see my grandfather. I didn’t come back the next year, or the year after that. In fact, this summer will be the first time I go back. This time, my grandfather will not be there.

Two years ago, today, I browsed through a chintzy souvenir shop in Montreal. Struggling to balance all the accumulated plastic trinkets in one hand, I answered my ringing phone – my mother, calling to check up on me; and to tell me my grandfather had died. I cried then but, by the time I walked out of the shop, dazed, my tears had dried and it would be almost two years before I would cry for him again. Perhaps because he was so far, or because I was used to not seeing him for years, I didn’t truly feel that he was gone.

Then, almost six months ago, I started a relationship with a man I will spend forever with. He is everything my grandfather wished for me. Now, I find myself thinking of my grandfather always. Tears well up at the most inopportune times –at work, at dinner, while watching a movie. I think of him and, suddenly, I miss him so much it hurts. As I plan my future with the love of my life, I am brought face to face with the fact that my grandfather will not dance at my wedding, that he will not even meet the man whom he dreamt of for years. The happiest discovery of my life has allowed me to grieve the saddest loss.

I am going back to Armenia in June. I don’t know how I will face the reality of it all – his grave, a missing presence in my grandmother’s apartment. I still can’t quite grasp that he is gone. But, his life and death serve as constant affirmations that, as cliched as it is true, life is short and, a life well lived is measured not in the number of breaths we take but rather, in the moments that take our breath away.

2 comments:

Stella said...

I am sure that your grandfather would be overjoyed at your happiness if he were able to see you today... and perhaps in some way, he is looking down on you and smiling! I wish you peace on your upcoming journey back to Armenia.

Anait said...

Grazie, Stella.