When I first moved away to college, I felt this sharp jab in my chest every time I thought of home. I had spent 18 years of my life living under the same roof as my parents, and suddenly they felt so far away. I was excited about the next chapter in life, but it still stung every now and then when I thought about how much I missed singing along to the radio with my mother in the car and how those days of picking peaches with my father and sister in the backyard were gone.
When I left college and parted ways from my roommates, my friends, my soulmates, I felt that similar sting. When I left California, that feeling was there too. And all the while, I knew it was nothing new -- when you spend an extended period of time away from the familiar, it's bound to hurt a little. Especially when you don't know when, or if, you'll see those faces again.
My 94-year-old grandfather was put into a nursing home a couple weeks ago. It was supposed to be temporary, and now it's permanent -- although nobody will say that word exactly, because the rest of that sentence is "permanent...until he goes." We don't really talk about death and things like that so candidly (which is perhaps why I'm terrible at handling grief), but I can't stop thinking about how, for the first time in 70-some years, my grandmother doesn't know how her husband is.
About nine years ago, my grandfather had a stroke. The doctors had said they weren't sure if he'd make it, and even if he did, they only guessed he had a year. That Christmas, he hugged everyone.
So I guess he's been living on borrowed time (though aren't we all?), but I think it's his nature to be scrappy. It's what you did to survive a war and coming to a foreign country and starting over again and again.
I've been thinking a lot about my grandparents since I moved across the country -- their past, our history, the moments I took for granted as a child when they would take care of me. People used to tell me how lucky I was to have three of my grandparents alive and able to see me grow up. I've never felt the weight of that sentiment until now.