The bitter end

bitter_endI write differently from the way I speak. It’s been so for as long as I can remember. Maybe that’s why I’m a writer.

I’ve never been good at sharing my pain with others. I’ve kept it all inside, hidden away from those who want to judge, to compare, to analyze, or even offer comfort. But when I write… I no longer care. My pain becomes just a story, something no one can take from me.

Love it or hate it, there’s nothing you can do to destroy a story.

Today we buried my grandfather. It was supposed to be his 75th birthday. He had suffered terribly at the hands of faith: he spent half of his lifetime battling with a number of medical conditions (diabetes, strokes, arteritis). He fought on, surgery after surgery, pill after pill, sleepless night after sleepless night.

I think it’s rather easy to die. For something or no reason at all. It’s even easier to die for something. To kill for something. It’s much more difficult to live for something, even if it’s just the simple act of walking.

My grandfather loved to walk. Nearby from where he lived was a park. In the last few years of his life, he could barely do that anymore. In the last few weeks, he couldn’t walk anymore.

I don’t know what life is supposed to be or mean, but if you can’t even do the simplest of things…

When he decided that he had enough, he died. He gave up. It was enough.

The bitter truth is that we all die. Ever since we take our first breath, life slowly sinks into death. We get closer to it, day by day, until it happens. The bitter end. And we’re all terrified, no matter what we believe in.

I wish I had told him that I loved him, that he was the only person I truly admired. I admired the man he used to be, long before I was even born, the young boy who walked all the way from a small village to the city in order to fulfill his destiny, the confident and strong man he became later in life, and the old man who fought bravely for his life.

When I last saw him, pain had erased hope from his soul. He wasn’t even afraid. He was just alone. He wanted to be with us, he wanted to spend his last moments with someone by his side.

He didn’t get that. He died alone in an intensive care unit, which is a fate no one truly deserves. No one should have to travel through this life alone, and no one should have to die alone.

Whether he felt that he was standing on the edge of forever, that he was about to find peace, that pain was about to finally subside, I know that he wanted us to be with him.

We couldn’t. None of us could.

It’s a strange thing to wish for, given the multitude of things we spend our lives wishing for, but I’d want just a few more moments with him. To tell him what he really meant to me, all these years, what impact he had on my life.

I never even told him that I was writing a book about my childhood, half of which I spent with him, strolling around the park he loved so much.

It’s ironic, but forever starts from the moment we die. Forever in the minds and hearts of the beloved, forever in the form of a story or painting, forever trapped in old, old photos.

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48 comments on “The bitter end

  1. galeweithers says:

    I am truly sorry for your loss. Your grandfather sounds as though he was a wonderful person who loved you and his family a lot. It’s a pity you didn’t get to tell him all the things you wanetd to, but I am sure he knew them already in his heart of hearts. Your last paragraph was your most powerful and I can so agree as someone who has lost a loved one (my mum died in 2009 and I miss her very much all this time later). Our end may be bitter but maybe there is some small consolation if our lives are lived to the sweetest. May you keep writing and touching others with your words … until forever.

  2. Beautiful and bitter sweet.

  3. ndieckman says:

    Loosing my Grandpa was the hardest thing of my life, he was the best role model in my life too. I found some relif when my son was born, and even as an infant I saw my grandfather in him, this is another way we live on.
    I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you find relief soon too.

  4. Lavinia Ross says:

    Sorry to hear about your grandfather. Good to hear he was an important part of your life, and that you have many good memories of him.

  5. Toutes mes condoleances…

  6. theladygris says:

    Thank you. My step-father-in-law recently passed away, and you’ve captured something I’ve been unwilling to write about. Thank you for sharing your pain, it helps me to know that others feel the same, and I’m very sorry for your loss. your grandfather sounds like an amazing man.

  7. socialbridge says:

    I’m so, so sorry to read of your grandfather’s death. It is very tough to lose someone we love and who has been in our lives forever. I suspect, too, that he knew how much you loved him. Grandparents and parents have an uncanny way of knowing how we feel, especially if we have been with them a lot since babyhood.
    Tightest hug, j

  8. I am sorry. I’ll say a pray for him.

  9. Alisa Anton says:

    It’s hard – losing someone. It tears you apart and changes your entire perspective. But, then, out of nowhere, faith makes you stronger and offers you a bittersweet perspective on life and sometimes, just sometimes, you can’t help but smile through tears.
    So sorry for your loss!

  10. My heart goes out to you I know how badly you must feel not having told your grandfather those things whilst he was still alive. I know it might sound you can still tell him now. There is a wonderful book called proof of heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander you might want to take a look at it.

  11. Yoshinky says:

    I think this is the closest anyone has ever b come to putting my vision of life and death into words. With one big difference, I don’t think dying is always easy. Dying while you’re not ready too, accepting that you’ll have to leave everything behind. I think that’s pretty hard

    I do think it’s easier to be the one dying than the one who has to live on without tje other.

    Sorry about your lost, I hope that soon you’ll be able to remember all the good things about him, without feeling all the pain.

  12. kristy4214 says:

    I love your writings Christian, keep writing.

  13. Losing someone close to your heart is always difficult..bear in mind he is in a better place. Hope you will be soon.

  14. kristy4214 says:

    I am sorry for your loss and pain, it slowly diminished over time. I’m sorry you couldn’t tell him how much he meant to you. That adds to your pain. Just keep writing man, it’s who you are, isn’t it?

  15. nikeyo says:

    I think all writers have this curse/blessing. :) It’s why we write.

    Some people are the opposite. They can not write their thoughts well, and prefer verbal discourse. There is no need for either of us to change. Just thrive in what we are.

    Thank you for the lovely thought!

  16. It is also rather ironic that the one thing in life that is absolutely certain—is death. Physical death, that is.
    Without a shadow of doubt, I know that your grandfather will continue on forever in thought, walking happily within your well-chosen words.

  17. So it goes… I also speak different then I write..

  18. I am very sorry for your loss. I also spent much of my life with my grandfather, who died in 2010. I do not think that I had a better friend for much of that time. I’ll pray for your grandfather. Requiescat in pace.

  19. floras2 says:

    Praying for your comfort and so glad you can express this in your writing – even from your pain

  20. jmgajda says:

    Cristian,

    I’m so sorry for what you’re going through, and I’m sorry that you weren’t able to be there with your grandfather at the end. I think he probably knew how you felt. When you get to be a certain age I think you realize the love people feel even if they don’t express it, because you know what it’s supposed to look like. Words can be inadequate, words can be false, but I’m sure your actions over your lifetime let your grandfather know how much you loved and respected him. My thoughts are with you and I hope you can find some small measure of peace as you go through this difficult time.

    -Jessica

  21. Wow..loved this post. And the last paragraph……amazing

  22. Successful Exceptional Education (SEE) says:

    Beautiful

  23. Eloquent but painful to read. Thank you for sharing and so very sorry for your loss.

  24. tinfoil27 says:

    So sorry for your loss and I loved every bit of this blog from top to bottom. Very heartfelt. I agree keep writing. p.s I had some trouble with liking this post so with that said I am hoping you did not see my 150 likes I was trying get to stick. If you did however everyone of them was genuine.

  25. Anne Chia says:

    So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing those beautiful words and memories with us

  26. Jen says:

    I am so sorry for your loss and for your grandfather’s suffering.

  27. Dear Cristian, I am truly sorry for your loss. But I can assure you, that life does not end with the death of our earthly body. It is merely a transition – as you quite illustratively said – into eternity and nothing to be afraid of.
    And that is the part that should give you hope, because your grandfather is not really gone. He is by your side – always. You may not be able to see him, but his spirit might be just standing beside you as you read these lines.

    Our earthly life is the time to prepare ourselves to meet with God. If your grandfather lived a righteous life he has found his peace. And this should also give you peace.
    Moreover, there is a way that families can be together forever – a way by which you can be reunited with your beloved grandfather. If you ever encounter some young men in black suits wearing the name of Jesus Christ on their badges: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

  28. domecia says:

    My prayers are with you and your family.

  29. What a beautiful blog, piece.
    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  30. Sorry for your loss… my grandfather died years ago and I still don’t know how I feel about it, we share very different stories you and I. But, I love how in your words I could relate in some kind of way! Thank you for sharing. And if I could help a bit “Arthritis” is the correct spelling, I hope that’s okay I would want you to do the same for me.

  31. threlve says:

    As strange as it seems, I believe that the relationship between mother and I has grown stronger since she passed away a few years ago. I, humanly, selfishly, miss her. On a deeper, spiritual level, I appreciate and respect her more than I did when she was alive.

    I hope for you that your relationship with your grandfather continues to grow.

  32. Italo says:

    I have started to share my poetry with my grandma who suffers from Alzeihmers, I believe that poetry feeds her soul and she too recites poetry, somehow she still remembers that. I am positive your grandpa is watching over you now, his spirit had crossed over and his essence is still there so don’t worry that you didn’t get to say it when he was alive. You can still tell him, he will listen, just read it outloud and say his name outloud, he will come and listen to what you have to say.

  33. kocart says:

    I think if your grandfather could have told you why he wanted you beside him, it would have been to squeeze your hand and offer you comfort. All any of us want really, especially when going through trouble, is to help the ones we love best be comforted and at peace.

    You loved him and he knows it.

    Thank you for your eloquent words.

  34. I’m very sorry for your loss and to hear of your regrets. Perhaps, if you believe in some form of afterlife, you can take comfort in knowing it’s not too late to ‘tell’ your grandfather the things you wanted to.

  35. My sympathies. I went through something similar over 30 years ago when my mother passed, it was difficulty. She spent the last days of her life in the hospital on morphine to counteract the pain from cancer. My last memory of her was her asking why no one ever comes to visit…her sister had just left the room. She was no longer the mother I knew, and to see her like that was painful. She passed one night, truely alone, with not even the nurses were in the room at the time.

  36. W. K. Tucker says:

    I also talk differently than I write. Sadly–maybe, maybe not–I am a redneck girl whose voice and choice of words when I speak makes that fact perfectly clear. :)
    I am sorry for the loss of your grandfather, but I am sure he knew how much you loved him. We don’t choose to spend time with those we don’t love, but you did with him. Actions speak louder than words. Do what I do concerning my deceased parents: talk to him. Tell him the things you wish you had. We have no idea what happens after our body dies. Maybe the spirit lives on and can hear us. I’d like to think so.

  37. Orionettelle says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your grandfather. I have been there as well. This writing goes above and beyond in displaying the pain, the grieving, the guilt. But I think he knows how much he meant to you, and you definitely meant something to him. I will pray for you and your family.

  38. You should honor him writing the novel about him, as you said you’re doing, that’s the best gift from a gifted person.

  39. I am sorry to see this. No one should die alone, no matter the circumstance. My condolences.

  40. I am truly sorry for your loss. I lost my father last year, just after Christmas and I was not there when he past away. It’s the things I didn’t get to tell him that haunts me every time I think about it.

  41. pobrandy says:

    Thank you for sharing. I found it very moving, I appreciate your perspective.

  42. nrdaswani says:

    You are right forever starts in the hearts of the beloved who was left behind. My mom died 20 years ago. I saw her picture days ago and broke down. I wish she can see me be a mom also and got her tenacity to live when it is tough. I am tearing up right now. Her legacy of believing an intimate relationship with our Creator remains in me.

  43. janeneg says:

    Any loss is hard, but the closer you are the harder it is. My love died, passing away also in ICU, far too young for it to be of any comfort. Our world loves stories of success and happiness, rarely talking about the realities of death. You write about it in a real way that I can feel and it helps. Would we cope better if we were in any way prepared, I don’t know.
    In my minds eye I saw my love smile at me and show me he was happy in those fateful final moments, he did find ultimate peace away from suffering, for that I am glad. As for everything else, it’s a process of putting life back together daily. Great post Cristian.

  44. danielayofe says:

    The bitter end is something we cannot avoid! Sorry for the loss….. I feel for u….

  45. Gwenny says:

    There is a reason he was not afraid. There is a destination for his soul and he did not die alone; The peace that abides.and waits for those who Believe. He is at peace.

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