Possibly sad fiction incoming.
EDIT: Definitely sad fiction incoming. You’ve been warned.
I was trying to focus on my silent reading when the secretary came in and started talking to my teacher. I thought it was odd, because normally Mrs. Atkins doesn’t deliver messages to classrooms herself. There’s usually some sort of office aide that helps with that. I knew it had to be important. I hoped it wasn’t about me.
I knew what it meant when Ms. Hollis came over to my desk. She was forcing a smile, but there were tears in her eyes. I had seen that look a lot lately. I din’t want to think about it, so I just listened and nodded when she told me that my Dad was there to pick me up. I picked up all my books and I followed Mrs. Atkins out of the room. She let me lead the way to my locker to get my backpack. I didn’t have a coat, it was practically summer.
Dad was waiting in the office. He took my back pack and thanked the secretary. She looked like she might be about to cry too. I followed Dad out to the truck. He put my backpack in the backseat, and he let me sit up front. I never got to sit up front.
As we pulled away, Dad told me where we were going. I already knew, but it was easier for both of us to talk about it like it was all a surprise. Dad didn’t seem to be upset, but then he never seemed upset; unless you did something to make him really mad. I had only seen him that way once, when Mom wrecked the car.
We got to the hospital quickly. There wasn’t any traffic on a Thursday afternoon. We went straight up to the fourth floor. All the nurses gave me the same forced smile that my teacher had. I appreciated that they were smiling, but it was weird knowing how hard they had to try. Mom and Grandma and Uncle Tim were all in the family lounge on the fourth floor. Mom and grandma started to cry when we got there. Uncle Tim just put a hand on my shoulder and squeezed. At least he didn’t force that smile.
After Mom and Grandma stopped crying, we went down the hall to Grandpa’s room. All the machines were hissing and beeping and whirring, just like the last time I had been here. Grandpa still wasn’t moving, just like the last time I was here. A couple of weeks ago, he was able to look around after the bed was moved up, but he didn’t seem to recognize us. He wasn’t scared or anything, he just didn’t seem to notice we were there. a couple weeks before that he couldn’t talk, but he would nod while we were talking and squeeze our hands.
Mom and Grandma were crying again, and Uncle Tim was talking with Dad. Just stuff about work, nothing important. I think it made it easier on him. He sat down in the chair when the Doctor came in. The Doctor talked to Dad for a little bit, but none of what he said seemed to matter much. It seemed like they were just confirming things that they had already decided.
They asked me if I wanted to leave and I told them no. I don’t really know why, there wasn’t anything for me to do. I just didn’t feel like standing in the hall by myself when they did it. I did go stand in the corner. There were nurses and the Doctor. They did something and the machines made different noises. Mom and Grandma really started crying hard. They had Dad do the last thing. Uncle Time kind of just left. Dad herded me out and went back in for Mom and Grandma.
He was holding their hands when they came out. They were still crying pretty loud. We all went downstairs, and got in our separate cars and went home. We didn’t stay there long, Mom and Dad got some things and we went over to Grandma’s. We were going to be staying awhile.
There were a lot of people in and out of Grandma’s house the next couple of days. Lots of people were hugging and crying. Dad ran a lot of errands for everyone. I went with him most of the time, because I didn’t know what to do just sitting at Grandma’s. Lots of people were asking if I was ok, sometimes they didn’t even ask me. Sometimes they asked Mom or Dad and they always said how well I was doing. I never cried.
I knew what had happened, but I didn’t understand. I knew I would never see Grandpa again, but never is too big an idea for a 10-year old to comprehend. So I just sat. I helped when people needed my help, and I went wherever we had to go. Grandpa was gone and that meant everything would change.
I spent a lot of time at Grandma and Grandpa’s. mom and Dad worked different shifts and it was easier to have Grandma and Grandpa watch me. I didn’t know what would change but I knew it all would.
The funeral was weird. I liked all the nice things they were saying, but I didn’t understand why we had to do all of it. I just wanted to try to go back to normal. IT wouldn’t be normal without Grandpa, but it would be whatever the new normal was going to be.
After we went home, lots of people came over and there was a lot of food. We had food and people the whole rest of the day. Near the end when people were packing things up, I went to find Dad. I hadn’t seen him in awhile, and he was the only one not acting weird.
I found him in the back bedroom. He was sitting in Grandpa’s old chair. He didn’t have any lights on, but the radio was playing. When I knocked on the door frame, he waved me in. I could see in the light from the hall that he was crying. I climbed up in his lap, and he hugged me. I finally started crying too.