“Where are you now?”
My dad called me as I was about five minutes from his house. My boyfriend and I knew we were going to be the last ones to arrive, but we were doing our best to get there as soon as possible.
“We’re getting off the exit now,” I told him. “We’ll be there soon.”
That was somewhat of a deja vu. The year before, as I was less than three miles out from the hospital where my grandfather took his last breath, my father called to see where I was. About two hours before, he phoned me with a nervous, yet prosaic tone.
“You need to get down here now. It’s Dada. He’s not doing too good.” That was the last thing I recall hearing him saying before bursting into tears and mildly convulsing on the side of my bed.
I got in the car and headed down the highway to see my grandpa. I thought of my immediate paternal family. My little cousin turned 21 the day before. I reminisced. A year or so prior, my grandfather told me that as the oldest grandchild, I needed to do better with keeping up with my cousins and getting us together. I wanted him to hold on until I arrived, but I didn’t want him to be in pain anymore.
As I pulled up to the hospital, my cousin and dad met me at the entrance. My cousin took my keys so I could head upstairs with my dad. In that walk up, he told me that he was gone.
The days after that weren’t blurry. They were filled with memories, laughter, food, liquor, and family. It only made sense that a year later, we would celebrate the life of my grandfather in the same way.
We arrived five minutes later as I estimated. My dad beckoned for everyone to come outside and started handing out cups filled with champagne. Relatives started passing out balloons. Once everyone gathered around in the driveway, my cousin, the same one that parked my car a year ago, soberingly reflected on our year without Dada. My grandmother followed her with terse remarks. Then we lifted our glasses and toasted with those immediately next to us. The balloons were released and everyone stood back to watch them float to oblivion.
I looked around and noticed a mixture of about thirty-or-so cousins, aunts, uncles, and family friends. People made time during their long 4th of July weekend to celebrate the life of my grandfather a year later. What an impact.
I went inside the house and grabbed my cousins. We needed our own toast. We went into screened-in patio and raised our glasses. This was for another year of life, endurance and family.
Dada would’ve been elated.