When HL and I first met we had 5 grandparents between us. He had a Grandma and Grandpa, and I had a Granny and Poppy and a Meerischen.

My Pop died of lung cancer just before I moved to America, Grandma died of lung cancer about 5 years later, Meerischen of heart issues shortly after, Grandpa of complications after a fall a couple of years ago and Granny a few months ago, when her body just got too old. HL and I have talked about how ‘orphan’ is the term for a person who has no parents left, but what is the term for those who have no grandparents? HL has suggested Grand-orphan.

Sometimes it will strike me out of nowhere that neither HL or I have any grandparents left alive and I will be reminded that we have been together since before all of those deaths. We were having lunch today and I said to HL “We have no grandparents left. They all died.”

I don’t know why I feel the need to point out when people are dead. I do it a lot. Almost any time we talk about someone who used to be alive and now is not, I am compelled to say “They’re dead now.” I think maybe it’s something to do with needing to be reminded that all is ephemeral, even people and things that seem to be steadfast.

We live on the edge of death, with it ineveitably looming, sometimes near, sometimes far, but always looming. I’m not afraid of death, as such. In fact, I’m not afraid of dying at all. I am afraid of grief. Especially sudden grief. Especially waking up the morning after, and the ‘thwack’ of sudden grief memory.

Death feels like a mistake. Like it can’t possibly be the case. Like there was life and then…not. Like this wasn’t the original plan. Some deaths feel better than others. Grandparent deaths at least often feel as though the timing was right, they were tired, sick, ready. But parent deaths and spouse deaths and children deaths… I s’pose as HL and I get older these some of these will seem more natural, but death will always feel, to me, like a mistake has been made.


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