By: Danielle Wilson
My daffodils are pushing up out of the soil towards the sky. They aren’t opened yet, even though it is mid April, because here in upstate New York, it has only recently turned into spring. Today is the first day to break seventy degrees but the breeze is cool– just to keep us from getting too confident. However, the sun and the warmth is so welcome to us after surviving this incredibly snowy, long winter.
About a month ago, I drove home to where my parents live to say goodbye to my grandpa. My Poppa Joe took care of me in so many ways throughout my life, and I wanted to be there for him now. When I got there, he was angry, refusing to eat his disgusting pureed and unsalted hospital food. He’d been saying he was going to die for at least the last twenty years, and now it seemed like he was so close that he wanted everyone to just leave him alone and let him do it.
However, he wouldn’t do it in front of me, his granddaughter. In fact, he let me feed him. I leaned close to him over the hospital bed and gently spooned the food into his mouth, giving him time to swallow each bite. I tried to make jokes to lighten the mood, but this moment was heavy. I wondered how it made him feel, to let his 34 year old granddaughter feed him pureed turkey with a plastic spoon, wiping his white whiskers with a flimsy napkin? How must it feel to be on the other side of life? To not be able to do this small thing, and depend on another person whom you once took care of yourself? But he let me, and I did it, grateful that he was letting me do this one small thing for him. When I left, I told him I loved him and said goodbye, thinking that it might be THE goodbye.
When I left my Poppa Joe, my mom and I drove across town to a different hospital to where my brother and his girlfriend were welcoming their new baby girl. I held my niece, this little baby version of my brother, for the first time, and I could barely see her through my tears. I was overwhelmed with emotions. Every picture of me from that day shows my swollen and red face hovering over her perfect little one.
How does one say such a big goodbye and such a big hello in the same afternoon? It sounds like I am making it up, but I’m not. I don’t even know exactly what it means, but it must mean something right? There is something too auspicious about a day like that.
This past week, I had a similar repeat of emotions with the birth of a dear friend’s baby and the sudden passing of a colleague within days of each other. Again, such joy and grief at the same time. Such stark examples of life’s beauty and pain. I struggled with the opposing emotions once again—happiness for one, sadness for the other, back and forth, swirling together.
Things don’t happen in a way that makes sense, but we’ll usually still try to make sense of them anyway.