The Promise of a Poem

*First, I would like to say that the cover photo has to do with a good memory I have with my Opa.* This morning I got bored so I decided to look over some of my old writing. As I was shuffling through old poems I found one that stuck out to me that I had (quite obviously) written about visiting my Opa when he was hospitalized for heart issues.

BREATHE:
Breathing in and out
The beep of the machine tracking his life
I leave marks on my palm, trying not to cry.
“He’ll be okay.” They say.
That’s what they said last time.
Nothing is okay.
How can you even say that word when his life is on a machine?
How can you say that when he is breathing through a tube?
How can you say that when I haven’t told him I love him?  Ever.

I don’t remember writing this poem, but I do remember the visit to the hospital that must have inspired it. It was my freshman year of high school. I remember not going to school and going with my dad to the hospital in Columbus. I remember seeing him there in the hospital bed with tubes over his mouth, nose, and down his throat. I remember digging my fingers into my palm and trying not to cry.  I remember my Opa waking up as I held his hand and I remember leaving and wondering if I would ever see him again. I remember telling him that I loved him and praying that he knew how much I cared for him. I remember stopping in the bathroom on the way out and breaking down into tears and then using a cold towel to hide my puffy eyes. I remember trying so desperately to pretend like I wasn’t being crushed by the air around me.

My Opa died September 10th 2016. I got another year with him after that visit. An extra year of making sure I ended every phone call and conversation with ‘I love you’. For about a month before he died, my Opa lived with us. During this time, for the first time in my life, I got to have a relationship with my grandfather. Sure, it wasn’t a ‘tell him all my deepest secrets’ kind of relationship’, but never the less, it was a relationship I got to have with my grandfather. The more and more I look back on my past the more I realize that’s all I really wanted: a relationship with my Opa before he died.

I’m not sure I can ever truly show how happy I am about that (considering this is my 2nd blog post about the matter, I should say that at least I am trying). Reading this poem, I wish I could go back and tell myself that that hospital visit wasn’t the end.

After my Opa died I felt a lot of regret for the things I wish I would have done. The extra time I could have spent with him. As time went on I realized something major. My regret was not productive nor was it healthy or helpful. I was wasting time by regretting when I needed to be remembering and thanking for the time I did get. Regret is still something I struggle with, but, alas, I am human. I think it’s to be expected. For me, it’s about catching myself in the act and re-routing my thoughts. Instead of regretting, remember the good times and the funny ones (there are quite a bit of those).

In my old poem, I found a promise. A promise of times to come. An odd promise of hope. And a promise of better memories, ones that I cherish, always.

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