There was no casket. He decided on cremation while he still could. Before the cancer took away his mind and his joy of life.
He had a lot of that way back when – joy of life. His smile was infectious. He could captivate any audience. Laughing and joking or intelligently debating with others, he was never dull. He worked hard even after he retired but never forgot to stop, relax and enjoy the world around him.
His backyard was gorgeous. Flowers and trees and landscape covered every inch of it. Not a grass-blade was seen in that backyard. The grapes where going to be coming into season when summer hit. Someone would have to help Grandma with that when the time came. And the back shed needed a new coat of paint too. My grandma could not do all that on her own.
The preacher was going on. I had stopped listening before he ever started talking. I never even heard the music of that stupid playlist I worked so hard to put together. Those songs had a new meaning now and my eyes were all out of tears already.
Too much hugging. Everyone wanted to know how the family was doing. And they all wanted to share stories of his life. What he had meant to them. What he taught them. How he had helped them through this time or that difficulty. He was an amazing guy. They wanted us to know that and remember that.
I knew. I never needed their stories. I knew how amazing my grandpa was. Hell, I knew better than they knew. I would never need to be reminded of that. I would not need reminders of the better days. Before the cancer gripped him. I would forever remember the man he had always been.
I would remember my best friend. No matter what. Even though the cancer shook him at the end. People told me so many freaking times how the cancer was not him. The cancer had control of him and was changing him. I knew the cancer was not him but he did indeed have cancer and it was indeed a part of him. There was no use trying to deny that. If the cancer had not been a part of him, we would not be at this stupid funeral in the first place.
We would probably be playing cards or some other favorite game we liked to
play. We would be laughing and joking or having one of those debates. Grandma would have made dinner. We would have brought over dessert. I would have been sitting right next to him. We would be sharing silent jokes or scheming. We would be doing the things that best buddies should do.
But instead I was alone. We had pairs when we were all together. Mom had Dad. Grandma had my sister. And now I had no partner. Games would be uneven. There would be a missing body at the dinner table. And there would forever be a hole inside of me.
The service was over now. I wanted to run and get as far from here as possible. But there was still the lunch provided by the church. More unneeded socializing and conversations. I had no desire to stay. Then Grandma took hold of my arm to steady herself. She smiled up at me with a smile that was anything but happy. Her other hand clenched more tissues than normal and she patted my hand with the gentle fist. She wanted to say a thousand things but she couldn’t chance talking now. It didn’t matter. I knew everything already.
I slowed down to match her unsteady pace and we silently promised to stick this thing out until the end.