I have a rather large, gristly bone to pick for the back-to-back deaths which started when I turned 20.
Why would you disrupt my life like that? What an unpleasant surprise.
I will be the first to admit I have lived a sheltered life. My parents loved me, my brothers protected me and my loved ones stayed alive. It was a pretty sweet deal in a world as strife-filled as ours. And then as if acne and growing pains were not enough, you took two of my great-aunts.
Their passing ruptured the stable ground I stood on. Suddenly, losing members of my family became a very real and present possibility instead of an eventual truth.
And yet, after the shock and pain wore off, I forgot to appreciate more. I forgot to stay longer at Sunday dinners with my grands and show up randomly throughout the week. I forgot about the ticking timer in the corner.
Did you see what I did with that wretched piece? Did you see how I threw a blanket overtop to cover its incessant noise?
The timer began its countdown once my second great-aunt passed away. It was annoying and threatening to my daily life, so I attempted to tune it out. I lived in willful disregard to the newfound truths you dropped in my lap.
The third death began with shock.
A slap so hard it broke my heart, but left no bruise nor upraised mark.
Suddenly, he was gone. My strong Papa with his sometimes Swedish accent and ability to bring nature’s beauty to any canvas.
I raged, I shouted in my mind. My body felt numb, but my mind was alive with denial. And then a thought came to me with crystal clarity. No one would ever call me Freida Louise again.
The silly name was lost, and so was my silly Papa with his joyful spirit and self-dubbed uni-ab.
For the next year, I took him with me everywhere I went. My pain was so much I could not deal with it in a day or even a month. It was my first taste of grief caused by your actions, Grim. I did not find it to my liking.
In fact, I wished you would stay away.
And for a time you let my family and me be. Some may take your departure as kindness, but I believe you were biding your time.
A year and eight days after my Papa’s death, my gran had an unexpected seizure. Complications and organ failure led to an unexpected death.
Cracks grew from the crevice left by my Papa’s death and the pounding of my heart reverberated the pain throughout my body.
(Do you see what your actions drive me to? I feel the need to catalogue my feelings in the most poetic fashion. You do this to me, Grim. And you can just sit tight till I’m done.)
Needless to say, it was not fun. Rarely is the loss of a loved one anything but pain. And yet, my Papa’s death had taught me a lesson. It had given me a truth to hold on to. A sense of peace which allowed me to enjoy bittersweet memories.
According to my faith, and theirs, they were far more joyous in their passing than I could imagine. Both strived until their untimely deaths to live each day in their Savior’s footsteps. Their ears longed to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
The knowledge their dearest dreams have come true brings a measure of joy.
Don’t get me wrong, Grim, you aren’t off the hook.
You attract too much pain for me to be anything but uncomfortable around you. Thankfully, you also attract family congregations. And my family just so happens to be rockin’.
Both my Papa’s and Gran’s funerals were like miniature family reunions. Relatives from across the country flew in or made long drives to express their love and sorrow.
It is a bizarre experience to be both exceedingly happy and sad in the same instant.
Knowing how much my grandparents loved family reunions made it easy to enjoy the laughter of loved ones.
Faces I had not seen in years came to pay their respects. Desserts were eaten by the handful and jokes were shared by the hour. New memories were made as the chill of death attempted to intrude on our time together.
Except, you did not quite win, did you, Grim?
My pain has been great, and I foresee more deaths ahead before I leave this earth, but you are no champion. I see what you are in this game of life and death, and you are not the winner. Yours is an unending hunger, which will not be satisfied.
You are too confusing to contemplate for long. I hear there is a time for death, as with most things. I also hear you serve a purpose on this earth, but I look forward to the day your services are no longer required. You’ve dealt me four blows, Grim, and you know what they say about a woman scorned.
R.I.P. Valley Bishop, Betty Bishop, David Bishop and Sandy Bishop.