I don't know what to say.
What is there to say?
I can tell you what it was like, just past 3am, when my phone rang. My dad was on the other end. "Carrie??" He asked, and even half asleep, I knew. I knew from the way he paused, the last bit of my name choked away to nothing. He told me then, and I gasped out "What?" It wasn't that I didn't hear, or didn't understand. It was because I was holding onto some hope that I was dreaming. I needed to hear it one more time. I had to be sure before I let my heart shatter.
I can tell you how when I arrived at the nursing home, I parked squarely between two spots. My hair was mussed from sleep, and my eyes stung with exhaustion and tears. I ran to the door, but then froze, suddenly terrified.
I can tell you how my father beat his chest in desperation, hoping that might hurt more than losing his father.
I can tell you how my grandmother held me tighter than she ever has, sitting in my grandfather's room, knowing, finally, that he'd never come home with us.
But those things, those moments, aren't what hurts.
What hurts is the hat perched next to my grandfather's chair.
What hurts is my grandmother, curled into his recliner. It's too big for her, and she looks like a child in it - a lost, frightened child.
What hurts is trying to remember the exact pitch of my grandfather's voice when he said my name. Trying to remember the last words he spoke to me at home.
What hurts is watching the enormous clouds reflected in his pond, wondering if he sees them too.
What hurts are the memories that come to me just as I'm drifting to sleep, leaving my pillows damp and my cheeks raw.
What hurts are the thousand questions about his life that will forever burn in the corner of my mind. The many things I'll never know, because I was too timid to ask.
What hurts is wondering if I told him I loved him enough. Wondering if he knew.
So I don't know what to say. Especially not when you ask if I'm okay. I know what everyone wants to see is strength - the stoic beauty of well managed grief. But honestly? Honestly, it feels like nothing will be okay again. The sun itself feels a little less bright.