Dedicated To Harris Curtis

Harris Curtis was my grandfather. He passed away in November, and I still think about him. Anyway, I was thinking earlier today about how weird it is that Grammie-and-Papa has been just Grammie for several months now, so I wrote a poem about it.

We See Things In Our Sleep

Life is not a sitcom.
It was weird
when Grammie and Papa’s
phone number became Grammies’
phone number.
It was weirder still
when Grammie and Papa
became Grammie.

After the fall
things just fell apart,
And he had to leave home.

I remember reading somewhere
that life comes and goes
full circle.
We are born small and
speechless, and he died
small and speechless.

I wasn’t there
for the two-day vigil,
when my father dreamed,
and his father breathed
his last breath.

I was there for the funeral,
to play a song and send him off
wherever he was going.

We see things in our sleep.
My father and grandfather
walked amongst the trees
and strange creatures, until
they came upon the lantern man.

I walked with Death, who smiled
and said it would be fine.
Another night I heard angels sing.

Grammie saw her husband
kiss her son goodbye.

I saw him smile in a perfect photograph.

The Last Goodbye

I should be doing homework right now, but my brain is kind of not cooperating with me at the moment.

Papa’s funeral was today. I’m having a really hard time with this now. He was sick for a long time; since I was a little kid really. The only things I really know about him are from what my dad and Aunt Betsy have told me. I think maybe it’s because I didn’t know him very well that I miss him so much.

I’ve been trying not to cry and crying a lot all day. I really don’t like to cry in front of people. I think part of it is that I want to strong and just squish the sadness out and part of it is that I don’t like to share my sadness. I don’t want others to have to be sad with me, so I try to hide it. Of course everyone else was sad at the church anyway, so at that point I just let it out.

I played an original song at the funeral. My grandmother asked me to play a song earlier this week, and my dad suggested “Passenger.” It’s essentially about being on a journey with the Lord. We don’t know where we’re going, but he does, and he’s a good driver. I played it during communion. The funny thing is that I didn’t feel sad while I was playing it. I was glad I was able to do it because it was kind of like my own little personal send-off for Papa.

A few nights ago I had a strange dream, and it freaked me out at first, but now I’m actually finding it comforting. In the dream Death (the person/character) caught up to me as a young, fairly handsome man and we had a conversation. I wrote about it as part of an assignment for my fiction writing class. I substituted a girl named Lily for myself, but other than that it’s basically the same. Here is the last scene from the dream.

“Before we go, I need to show you something,” said the young man. They walked up a flight of stairs and suddenly, they found themselves in a dingy hallway with rooms on either side. There was one door up ahead that was open. Lily heard what sounded like fighting and a girl screamed, but the young man seemed unphased. When they reached the doorway, they saw two young men attacking a young woman. After a moment the young man asked Lily, “Would you like me to spare her?”
“Yes, of course,” Lily said.
Suddenly the two young men were gone and the girl had no signs of just having been beaten on her face or arms.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Not to worry, dear,” said the young man. “Help is on the way.”
They left the girl and as they walked on, Lily looked at the man in the face for the first time.
“You’re Death, aren’t you?”
“Yes, dear.”
“And… you’re not terrible.”
“No, I’m glad you don’t think so.”
“And you’re taking me away…”
“But… you’re bringing me to God, right?”

I think this means that Papa’s okay. I just want it to. There is no doubt in my mind that heaven exists and that Papa is destined for it; it’s just hard to connect the dots between this life and the next. It seems weird to have someone close be gone. We were created from dust and we return to dust. I never really understood the significance of that until today.

The weather really didn’t help the mood of the whole thing. It was in the 40’s and rainy. After we left the cemetery we went back to the funeral home and had refreshments. I talked about a lot of stuff with my Godparents. We talked about some people who have had near death experiences and written about them afterwards. A lot of people have seen heaven. One guy who was a brain surgeon and didn’t believe in God was essentially brain dead for 10 days and was shown around heaven by his sister whom he never knew he had because he was adopted. There were other stories too. I really love stories like that. It just doesn’t seem right that Papa is gone. It always seemed like my grandparents were a single unit; Grammie-and-Papa. Now it seems like half of something is missing.

My Russian Literature professor says that love works in weird ways. She always talks about how in math 2 + 2 = 4, but in real life 2 + 2 = 5, and that’s how love works. It brings two people together, but it also creates something new; some extra little piece. I guess maybe that extra little piece is still there. I don’t think that if there is an afterlife that the extra little piece can be destroyed by death. Grammie still loves Papa and so does my dad and my aunt and my cousins and my brother, and so do I.

I’m probably rambling. I guess I’m just trying to find a way to make this easier. I’m going back to school tomorrow. I’m a little worried about how I’ll feel tomorrow, but I think sleep will do me good, and maybe it will be a good distraction. I think I just need to get back to a normal routine. I was in Maine Thursday and Friday and we went back up yesterday afternoon and stayed in a hotel. I didn’t get any sleep last night, so I’m hoping I’ll just crash and recharge tonight.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!