Chocolate grief

Me, Lauren and Grandpa on his 93d birthday.

Me, Lauren and Grandpa on his 93d birthday.

This week has been one of the most draining weeks.  Not the most sad, that was the week Celeste died.  But draining.

This past Sunday, my grandpa, Lawrence Klimchalk, passed from this earth at around 12:35 pm.  He was alone, but seeing as whenever someone would visit him, he’d tell us to leave him alone, or if he were out, he’d always be asking to go home, I think that’s what he would have wanted.  He passed peacefully, while resting.

The funeral was tough, but not in the way of crying and heart rending grief.  No, we are all so happy that he isn’t suffering anymore.  He’d been in a nursing home care setting since Thanksgiving, and was about to be moved to a permanent nursing home when he suffered a heart attack and was taking to the hospital.  The hospice care there was amazing, and I’m so thankful that his suffering wasn’t prolonged here.

But there is still grief.  And I’ve been reflecting on this different flavor.  I feel like there’s been three flavors of grief in my life thus far.

When I was younger, I didn’t have very many funerals that I went to.  The one that I remember the most is when my great-aunt Nancy died.   That was the first time someone I knew had died and I realized “Things won’t be the same anymore”.  There wouldn’t be any more Palm Sunday Easter egg hunts at her house on the lake.  I don’t even remember going out there very much after she passed.  We weren’t especially close, but it was a change.  If I could give this a flavor… or a smell, maybe, it’d be vanilla.  A little typical.. not very salty, not too sweet.  Vanilla grief.

Then Celeste.  That was.. tough.  There’s no other way to put it.  I’m tearing up now just trying to pull out the feelings in a minor way.  It was heart breaking and clothes rendering kinda of grief.  Just utter destruction of emotions.  With her, it was this huge loss of “What life should have been”.  She should be here right now, a nine year old girl, running around with Luke and Julia, babysitting all the nieces and nephews.  She should have been the flower girl at my wedding.  That grief was like smoke.. thick black smoke that chokes you and you can’t think of anything except how can I escape this.  And the smell lingers for years like there was a bad house fire.  And even after many many years, you can pull something out and still smell it… faded, but there.

With Grandpa it’s different.  I was always his favorite, but I have some regrets… I wish I had visited him more, especially in the last year.  It’s hard though, with little kids who just make messes in an unchild-proofed house, it was never really easy to visit.  I wish I had made the time.  I wish I had maybe prayed more with him.  I would always tell him when I’d see him praying the rosary that it was good he was doing that for me, I didn’t have the time.  I should have made the time.  But there’s also sweet memories, and lots of pictures, and no big regrets, just the little ones.  It’s more like chocolate, rich deep chocolate, the kind of ice cream with all the ribbons of chocolate chunks or cookie crumbles.  And then a little sea salt on top, just for the tears.  They aren’t many, and they enhance the flavor.

I’m still figuring out how to adjust to the new reality.  I’ve said for a long time “Grandpa’s very old, he’s going to die sooner rather than later… we’ll be fine”.  I think I was trying to convince myself of that.  And we will be fine, eventually.  But it’s not even been a week.. there’s plenty of time for chocolate.


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