I never realized what grief truly was until my paternal grandfather passed on September 11, 2021. So close to my uncle and a cousin's birthdays, too. I also had my great-grandmother's spirit visit me in my grandfather's home, months before he died. One of the bedroom lights flickered for 10 minutes and burnt out. Then someone called me on the phone and mentioned my great-grandmother (she passed in 2008). I searched up what it meant for lights to flicker. A loved one visiting. I knew why she was there, to eventually retrieve her sons. My grandpa and great-uncle died a few days apart. Sometimes I question if I am a medium in training.
The thing about my grandfather's death, was I did not expect it to hit me so hard. I thought I would just be sad and carry on, because he was not always the best to me, while he was warmer to everyone else. He never abused me or anybody. Just a stubborn guy with a short temper. I am his rebellious but still respectful granddaughter. Of all my cousins on my father's side, I realize I am the one most similar to my grandfather's independent nature. I always resented him every time we had a small argument, just because I would sometimes feel disrespected and want to talk back. Meanwhile no one would ever take my side or tell me to calm down, because they understand but we can't do a thing about him when he acts that way. But regardless, he was the one man I respected and admired the most.
My paternal grandfather, nicknamed Don, hated being compared to Trump. I hated it too, and when I learned how he felt, I never joked about Trump. Although they were born 1946 and have Donald J. as their names (my grandpa is Donald James, though). They are vastly different. My grandfather co-created his own business for our small indigenous community Moose Factory in Ontario, the oldest English colonial settlement. He did it in spite of racist colleagues mocking him. He accomplished it with the help of our First Nations band, but he always managed the store himself and ordered everything. He was devoted to this store, not out of selfish motives, but for providing household essentials with better pricing.
I miss him so much, because I can now never go to work saying, "I'm going to work now, see you later. I love you, grandpa." I'm an such overemotional, overly sensitive person, that I am not sure I can ever work in my own family's store again. My grief clouded my mind when I tried to work there in January 2021, when he was in Kingston getting his cancer treatments. Everyone at work kept saying, "When are your grandparents coming home?" I would just say back, "I don't know..." I felt like telling them all to shut up and leave me alone, because I knew if he is out there for so many months, something is very wrong.
He had pancreatic cancer that slowly spread. Several doctors told him no to the surgery, until eventually someone else agreed to allow it. I know they know better, but I feel like they left him to just die. He weakened more and more, even after the surgery. With the pandemic, and all the restrictions, I only managed to visit him in Kingston once in March 2021. My final memory of him, looking so tired and sick, only really socializing with his sisters who were there too, and gratefully he treated me to my favorite Chinese takeout meal. I kissed his head, naively thinking maybe my love would heal him. But that is just not how it works.
When the time finally came, he was transported home to his house in Moose Factory. A little town where they had to enforce pandemic rules. I wrongly thought they would say I'd have to have my COVID vaxx. But I wanted to go anyway. I have my own reasons to avoid that specific vaxx, but will not write about it here as it is borderline political. My grandfather passed the very day I was in the city to board the train to Moosonee and Moose Factory. I was in shock and disappointment. I did not go, because my family was going to send me back home down south, as soon as distant relatives and family friends were. I wanted to live with them for a while, grieve together and heal together. But if that is how they wanted to play it, then I chose not to go. I did not attend his funeral, but I am sure my grandfather's spirit understands.
Nowadays I am still grieving. His death's 1st year anniversary is coming up. My heart is still broken. I nearly lost my life to a grand mal seizure on September 22, 2021. I nearly lost my sanity to the grief in December 2021, but I learned it was due to nutritional deficiencies. The year 2021 was so rough for me. Now I am taking an anti-depressant I used to be on. I feel functional and less anxious. But grief when a close loved one passes away, it can always hit like a truck. For the first few months, I thought to myself: Why do I even care? He was so mean to me sometimes. But I know why I care: he was one of my biggest role models, someone who always financially helped me, and he always gladly let me work at our family's store. Most of all, he loved me despite how much of a brat I can be.
In January 2022, I dreamt of him standing at a window, and we were at a house dinner party, like we always did every holiday. He was still his old self, with his green t-shirt, his big belly, and he was happy and healthy. I said, "Grandpa, you're here!" and I hugged him, he hugged me back. Then again in this summer of 2022, I had a dream he was healthy and came out of a hospital exam room. I hugged him again, and he hugged me. I walked away, telling the medical staff in the hallway that my grandpa is right there and I am not crazy. But that was just a dream. Still, even in grief, I am grateful his spirit visited me in my dreams twice. I miss him, but he was bound to go eventually.