A Thousand Words

My grandfather passed away in October.

I’ve already written about it and link to it incessantly.  It’s been ruthlessly on my mind since it happened, and I’m still trying to process the whole event.  I don’t know that I’ll ever really stop processing it.  I hope not.  But I digress.

The last time I saw his body, we were in the hospital.  His face was shrunken and hollow, his form seemed unnaturally small. A number of machines had been integrated into his various systems. It was late at night, and ultimately early morning.

The last time I saw my grandfather was in May, and I’ve been sort-of-ashamed to say I didn’t have any real specific memories of the trip. I hadn’t forgotten it, exactly, but the memory wasn’t connected with the last time I saw my grandfather.  There was a disassociation for some reason.

That is, until I found a poem the other day. Remember my poetry challenge? Write a poem a day for 365 days starting on your birthday?  Number ten in my list is about that visit.  It’s in the context of seeing my grandparents for the first time after my parents announced their divorce. It’s unassuming and wandering and frank.  It’s nearly prose.  But it’s there, and I discovered it while sitting in a coffee shop while wearing my ridiculous after-workout sweatpants, and I nearly cried.

I’m not posting the poem yet (I’m considering publishing a collection later this year), but that’s what I want to write about.

As I read it the entire trip came rushing back to meet me.  Like an unexpected wave on a childhood beach trip, you turn your head to not-quite-hear your mom warning you about the upcoming swell– like, I knew it was coming, I’d already experienced it, but it still whacked me upside the head and tossed me facefirst into the hard, wet sand of emotion.  That poem is an emotional photograph of an experience rather than a moment.

I’m not sure what the purpose of this blog post is.  Partially I just wanted to share a firsthand account of the power of poetry.  Partially I wanted to share an insight into the emotional importance of writing, at least for me; it gives me these amazing windows into the life of my younger self, far more intimate than anything you see in videos or pictures or anecdotes.  And yeah, partially I wanted to share that decision on possibly releasing a book of poetry later this year.

Mostly I just needed to process a little more, I think.  I mean, I was in a coffee shop and sweatpants. I couldn’t do it then.


2 thoughts on “A Thousand Words

  1. Hi Alex, thank you for sharing this. I lost my grandfather in 2008, and I can tell you it does get easier with time… or it seems to. It’s easier to block out, but the more you do, when you do start thinking about/remembering this person it crashes back more powerfully. I recently gave a speech at my school for Veterans’ Day where I talked about my grandpa, who was a naval engineer (Seabee) and his younger brother who died protecting B-12 bombers over Germany in his fighter plane. I thought I was cool; I had practiced it several times without problems, and then I cried in front of the entire school and visiting veterans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for sharing in response, Amelia. It’s amazing what can set you off sometimes. It’s gotten a little easier over the past few months, but occasionally something small will still just get at me. Christmas with my grandmother, for example, was heartwrenching– but I was all right until I had to drive away from her house. My grandfather always used to walk you out the door, right up to your car, and talk your ear off the entire way. The second I stepped out the doorway with no one following me I teared up. It was something I was just so used to.


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