The sterile room polluted the beauty of the moment. Years have passed since you have walked this earth, but I remember that. I remember how your words had a natural luminescence that shattered the artificial hospital light-bulbs. I knew that those molecules of light you doused me with were supposed to last a lifetime, yet our memories are drifting farther and farther away, and along with it, a piece of myself.
You were Grandpa, but you were also father. You stood up and decided to take the role fate told me I wasn’t allowed to have. You made me whole—made me more than a damaged child. You showed me genuine love and integrity, and I am trying to maintain the wall of a child you made of me, but too often I feel my stained bricks crumbling from the foundations. Because you were the foundation, now you are not. What are you? Are you a spirit? Are you a simply a pile of flesh and dried blood dripping into the earth? Sometimes I tell myself you are in my heart, but I don’t even know if the heart is more than an organ. Sometimes I don’t even know if I am more than a functioning cell, if these words and emotions are no more than some form of homeostasis. Everything is so esoteric now. The older I get the more juvenile, the weaker and baffled I become.
I am trying to find you, because I know that until I discover where death has been holding you hostage, I don’t think I can find myself. Ever since you’ve been gone Mom has been deteriorating, along with the image she has of me. I’m lost, and I cannot be rescued without a map. I don’t want to be rescued without you, to re-enter a world that does not have your playful smile at its gates. I don’t think my pulse is strong enough to drum through it.
You taught me better. You taught me to hook a silver string from the moon and attach it to my chin, to hold myself with class. But I know I cannot stand confidently in a world that within this moment I have no confidence in. I can’t be proud when I am not proud of the world I am designated to lead tomorrow, not the world, the ignorant universe that murdered you.
My memories of your last moments are dented by infected screws and unsterilized needles. A broken hip was what caused it all—that and your many years. The unsterile equipment used by apathetic doctors, the putrid crevices along your spine from endless hours of neglect in your hospital bed, the agony of repeated surgery they made you endure on your 81st birthday, all spurred by the belief you were old enough—you were going to die anyway. I watched them hasten the morbid process, dehumanize the most glorious human I ever met, kill you. I was too young, and I’ll forever remain to naïve to comprehend the hows and whys. But that one phrase you whispered to us as we were to leave you I will always understand, and although the glistening look of your marvelous turquoise eyes or the grasp of your enormous palm will left me, it remains:
I want to keep you warm.
And you gathered us within your arms and covers and held us with strength that lurked the edge of impossible from someone in your condition. I felt our warmth streaming through my veins, rippling throughout the rugged barriers of my soul, and vibrating in your words I love you. I am living in an emerald glass house, and you are the sunlight that drips through and allows me to grow, the power behind all my words, all my battles. I know that one day I will grow large enough to shatter the translucent walls and create new boundaries—my boundaries, frontiers where corruption and injustice are debilitated and incapable of making a journey into my world.
I used to think I lost you, but I know that you were stolen from me. Your soul will not arrive on my doorstep with a scrap of paper and a scribble of an apology. I will evict those who hold you hostage from their lairs—force the cruelty that seized you to abdicate. Grandpa, I will never see you again. But I will feel you. I will feel your tremendous warm cradle me in its arms—I just have to speak, and keep speaking, for you and every other pair of peach skin stapled shut. I will ignite my earth with words like these, just you watch, and I will return to the soul you created out of a pile of harsh genetics. There will be fire, golden fire, the kind you were inhibited from fully sharing with me, and I am no longer afraid to kindle it.