It’s been 48 hours but it’s still not any easier. You go on living – teaching piano, answering emails, etc, but you feel empty inside. You think about all the things you should have said but didn’t. You think about the last time he kissed you on the cheek, and smiled at you, and the last time he touched your hand. I know everybody grieves differently – I grieve by crying never-ending tears and writing about him. My room is a mess – my desk is covered in tissues. Every time I see a picture of him or remember something, I tear up. And in my head, I can’t help but think that if life proceeds naturally as it should, then my grandma is next, and then my dad and then my mom…and it breaks my heart. I love everybody too much to let them go.
As I reflect back, I’ll always have the fond memory of me, Omi, and Opi eating together after a long day at school or a bad day at work. If it was sunny, we would eat on the deck and it would be filled with the gentle glow of the late September sun. Opi would pour white wine for us to drink and I would carry the dishes inside. As the weather got colder and it rained, we would eat inside the cozy kitchen. Opi would be sitting across from me and I would watch him slowly eat his food and then thank Omi for a good dinner. The rain would be falling on the window pane and I felt so secure, happy, and loved. It was like I forgot about the real world while I was there. These were such happy times and I would do anything to get them back.
I went to my grandma’s house for dinner. It was just like old times except I sat in the spot where he always sat. She started tearing up when we were talking about him and then I teared up too. People kept calling to offer their condolences. I watered the flowers and one of the German neighbours walked by with his dog. His German accent and the sound of his voice reminded me so much of Opi that I couldn’t listen anymore. So I took the key for the shed from the closet and went to Opi’s shed. It was almost surreal being in there – the smell, the tools, his presence. I’ll never forget the smell, for as long as I live, I’ll always remember it. It’s a beautiful smell that I can only describe as love. If love had a smell, that would be it.
It was decided that I would spend the night but i didn’t have my contact solution so we had to walk to the store before it closed. My grandma walked incredibly fast for her age. “When you love someone, your body can do things it can’t normally do,” she told me. I watched my grandma. She said hi to people on the streets, she thanked the driver for letting her cross the road, she made friends with strangers – that’s the charm about old people. They are connected to people; not technology. They make human connections – not connections on social media. And that’s the kind of person I want to be too.
Then we made hot chocolate – Opi’s favourite – and we toasted Opi and Omi toasted me, and in that moment, I knew it was another picture of love and that Opi was watching us and smiling.