I Think I Knew You

I won’t be able to do it. I won’t be able to do your lifetime justice in a set of sentences to be said once you’re all ready too far away to hear them.

I won’t be able to thank you, or find out what your favorite flavor of ice cream was (it was probably vanilla, but I didn’t ask). I won’t be able to ask where your favorite place to vacation was, or what your fondest memory from that vacation spot might have been. I won’t be able to ask how you felt on your wedding day, the day you had your first child, the day you suddenly ended up working for the family business after being a homemaker for so many years.

I won’t be able to ask you if you regret things like not drinking milk in your black coffee, because it might have helped with the osteoporosis. I won’t be able to ask if you didn’t drink alcohol to the extreme because you saw what it did to the men in your family. I won’t be able to ask what your favorite color was, or what you remember from being a nurse.

I don’t think I can say anything about you when they are going to want me to, because this family doesn’t talk about themselves. And out of all of us, you talked the least. There was no narrative to the way you answered questions. Everything was yes, or no, with that smile, or that look of concern. You were the grandma that always had a twenty in her billfold just in case, and would bring cookies or monkey bread or those cakes that were really 50% fudge frosting— you were just grandma.

Just grandma.

A lot of the family thinks that this is it; that the bell has started tolling for you. That the fall out of the truck or at the mail box (whatever it was) pulled the rope that started the knells ringing out. A lot of the family thinks that Grandpa has fired up the Cherokee on the other side of the sky and is preparing to take off to fly back here to pick you up for one more cruise.

And here I am saying you need a nice nap and to be left alone to some piece and quiet, which is something no one has enough of anymore.

More than likely, you probably need a way to tell the narrative no one has ever asked you about. You probably wouldn’t mind a conversation about little nothings like colors and ice creams and trips you took and memories you have and that one meal that was so awkward that you laugh about it while cringing…

But I don’t think I’ll be able to do it.

If the bell is ringing, I don’t think it started with the fall. It starts for us all the moment we breathe our first breath. It tolls all our lives long and society does a grand job of masking the tolling of those well kept bells with other noises and distractions so we don’t spend our lives worrying about dying. But they’ve always been tolling.

People aren’t supposed to worry about the tolling of the bells of life, they’re supposed to worry about the silence that follows.

‘Cause then, even if you ask, there’s just silence. Maybe regret. But mostly, silence.

I’m going to miss you, though. Because it’s one more person I knew that I won’t be around anymore, one more time that I can never go back to, one more change that we can’t take back.

And I’m going to try and do it, I’m going to try and talk about you, even though really, I don’t think I know anything about you. Because even if I don’t know your favorite things, I think I knew you.

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