Wednesday, February 20, 2008

utterly depressed

My grandpa died yesterday. He wasn't sick. He wasn't too old. But he wasn't feeling well sometime on Monday night and woke up on Tuesday to bouts of vomiting. I guess there was blood in his vomit and he called my aunt who took him to the hospital. They ran some tests and found that he was bleeding internally, but they didn't know why. My aunt stepped out to call her brothers and sisters and let them know what was happening. While she stepped out, my grandfather passed; he was all alone in a hospital when he died and that's what kills me. My mom is a mess. I took charge and immediately bought a ticket to fly my sister home from college. She gets in tomorrow morning and then Joe and I will pick her up and drive her to NJ with us, because surprisingly the flight was $600 cheaper into Albany International than into Newark. And I've been left with the daunting task of letting my brother know what happened and getting him home, somehow, from his Coast Guard Cutter which is in the middle of the Carribean. I had to tell my baby brother, via email, that his grandpa died. I was on the phone with the Red Cross a half dozen times yesterday and already twice this morning. His chain of command has released him, but the only way to get him off the boat is through the Red Cross and they have yet to verify the death or contact the Cutter. The first wake is on Thursday night, then there are two wakes (from 2-4 and then 7-9) on Friday with the funeral on Saturday. I have no idea how I am going to pull this off. I can't believe he may not be able to be with his family right now AND miss the funeral altogether... With all of this craziness I don't think that my grandpa's death has sunk in yet. I can't believe I will never see him again. I don't even miss him yet. I think the wake will be when it really hits me. Right now I've just been consumed with getting everything ready to get to NJ to be with him. Joe's dad said the stupidest thing to me yesterday which keeps making me laugh. First, let me preface this with the fact that my father-in-law is a living, breathing Archie Bunker. He says things sometimes that make me uncomfortable to even be in his presence. So...yesterday in the middle of helping me navigate how to get my brother home from out at sea (my FIL is retired Army with a lot of overseas experience) he says to me "just think, now your grandma and grandpa are together eating spaghetti dinner." First of all, before we even begin to split hairs over that statement, I don't really believe in an afterlife I think that you just live and then you die. I think humans are often very presumptuous in believing that we are so invaluable that unlike any other living creature when we die we don't really die, we just move on. For me, an afterlife all would have to include all previously living things, which then means that there are thousands of bugs, trees, animals, people and even the dinosaurs marching around in some parallel universe. That said, it's obviously a fallible assertion and thusly I don't believe that there's anything after life but death. But under the small chance that my grandparents were reunited post-death, I hardly think that after 15 years of being separated in mind, body and spirit by parallel forms of living that the first thing my grandmother was going to do was throw on a pot of water on her Heavenly stove and cook up some Chicken Cacciatore. "Hey Jim! I've been waiting for you. Have some dinner." It was just such absurdity, and I know he was just trying to comfort me, but seriously is that what Italians do when they die? Make spaghetti? Jackass. This is pretty much standard operating Russell mentality though - every time his dad meets somebody Jewish from Brooklyn his dad asks me if I know them. Um, just because my dad's Jewish and I lived in Brooklyn for the first seven years of my life does not mean that every Jewish person in Brooklyn is extrinsically linked back to me. This isn't the 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon people. Oh well. It's good for a laugh. **update** I was able to get my brother home in time for the 2nd wake on Friday. Now I just have to hope he makes his flight. My sister may miss her flight tomorrow morning because apparently Ohio is in the middle of a giant snowstorm. I am off to go get us packed and the house ready to be "shut down" for the next few days. I have to make arrangements to board the dog too. What a crazy few days.

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