I love old things. Recently, I had to go through the mess that is my closet, and I found a lot of my Grammy’s old jewelry. I remember when she died, I suppose it’s one of those events that define you but are wisps in the wind.
I was seven, and I was confused. My dad was crying and I didn’t know why.
I knew what death was, in theory, but this was the first time it had come to my front door. It whisked into my house and grabbed my dad’s parents, my grandparents, Death had never dared come near me before, but he came and grabbed my great aunt and left without a note, without a sound. The unfairness of it stung like a blast of cold air.
I don’t remember a lot of things.
I came back to America, confused and not understanding this sense of loss, and looked at an old house that I could just barely remember. I remembered a booming laugh and a wide smile, and I remembered how quiet my grandpa Dennis was beside Grammy. I remembered my Aunt Jean, petting her dog and smiling.
I went to that old house to cry and remember, but I didn’t understand. I grabbed belongings off the shelf and filled my pockets, grasping at foggy memories and forgotten smells and sights. Forgotten touches.
I cried in a lonely old house for people that I wouldn’t get to know better. I cried for days that would never happen.
Seven years later, and look at where I am now.
Death has knocked on my door since then, and I have looked upon him with confusion.
Death hurts. Death seems so final. I hate the word. It tastes of bitter nights and cold days.
But death is real.
But so is life.
And life is so beautiful. My Grammy was full of life, sunshine seemed to sparkle from her, and I miss her. I miss that I do not know her except by my wisps of memories, the stories my Dad tells. I miss my Grandpa Dennis and my Aunt Jean.
I love old things. Old things are concrete, and they remind us of who made us what we are. I do not know my Grandpa Dennis, Grammy, or my Aunt Jean very well, but they have made me who I am, just as much as anyone else who has entered my life. And just as everybody who has walked out again, they are missed and they are remembered.
I like the way the early Christians said it. The dead were not dead, they were only sleeping.
My Grammy is only sleeping, and I will see her again. I will remember the way her hugs felt because I will feel them again. I will know her again.
I suppose in a way, death is the most beautiful pain we can experience.
You can’t live without death, and you can’t die without having lived first. They are intertwined and can not be separated.
But I don’t need to fear death.
Death is only sleeping.
Death is only sleeping, and I will see my fellow brethren again.
My friend Larry who died of cancer, who taught me how to fish, who laughed and made awful puns, is only sleeping.
And in time, I too, will sleep.
I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but I know that just as I have lived, I will die. But I’m not afraid of what comes after death, because I know where I stand. Death will not steal my soul from me, because I have entrusted it to someone who has conquered him.
I love old things, because they remind us of who made us who we are.