Six Minutes After My Grandfather’s Death

Six minutes ago I got a message from my father.

At the time, I had my imaginary chefs hat on while preparing breakfast for the dogs I was taking care of for the week. I swear, it takes more time to prepare their meals than my own.

I glanced down when I saw my phone light up.

“Panna left the planet last night. He is free. I’m on phone with Dan now.”

I went from Gordon Ramsey to Forrest Gump as I raced to feed the dogs.

As soon as I could get my hands free, I responded.

“He’s free” 

I didn’t know what else to say. 

I wanted to keep it positive so my dad didn’t think he just lost his father and his daughters mind in the same morning.

On my way down the stairs I left a voice memo to my friend, Lily, to update her on my ever changing, ridiculous life.

I then sent out a generic but sincere “I love you” text to my mom, dad, Uncle Dan, and sister, while I laid down on the couch. That’s where I am now, processing the last 10 minutes of my life.

I only got emotional towards the end of my voice memo to Lily, while thinking about what an incredible, funny, beautiful soul, just finished his time on Earth.

I’m surprised how I’m feeling, but it’s probably not why you think.

For years now, I was certain that at the news of my grandfathers inevitable passing, I would feel a certain type of way. Guilty.

Not the guilty feeling you get when you see someone has something in their teeth and you watch them walk away as your question your morals. I mean the guilt that stays with you for years.

Guilt for not calling more. Guilt for not making more of an effort to spend time with him. Guilt for not asking more questions about his extraordinary, inspiring life. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

So the fact that I don’t feel that emotion right now is beyond me. 

If I could describe how I’m feeling right now, the first thing that would come to mind is tired if I’m being completely honest.

I also feel annoyed, but that’s because of a boy. When are boys not annoying though? They have the emotional intelligence of one of the dogs I’m watching after, that eats its own shit, tries to swallow rocks, and bumps into walls. 72% serious. Maybe I just need to start talking to different men. That’s besides the point. 

The main feeling I have in regards to the passing of my grandfather is peace. Peace for his sake. He’s free, and I’m happy for him. His biggest fear was death, but I believe it to be a blessing for him. At 96 years old, he could only do so much more living. In fact, at that point it was more existing than living. 

I feel gratitude. He was such a cool dude (my grandfather, not the boy I’m annoyed with) and so many of my talents I give him credit for. He was a standup comedian, voiceover actor, and followed his passions while bringing joy and laughter constantly to those around him.

I hope to follow in his footsteps, not his posture. Too soon to be making jokes? I think he would have laughed.

Lastly I feel relief. Not only for him as I mentioned before, but for myself! I spent so much time abroad worrying about my grandfather leaving this planet and me being swamped with guilt.

How ironic that my last moments by his side, I sang to him “Guilty” by Billy Holiday.

I don’t feel guilt. I feel growth. 

I’ve come a long way. I know we all do the best we can and I am no exception to that. Yes, I wish I did do more with him, but there’s no point in feeling guilty. I’m worthy of feeling good and having a good life, guilt free, just as my grandfather would wish. So was he. So are you. 

I’m happy that I give myself permission to witness my grandfather transition with ease, not guilt.

Rest in Paradise Leo De Lyon. 

With love, always, 

Little Lyon 

Dear James

BC4D3798-4E67-4935-B757-8A304FF057F7Here I am, crying in a classroom closet while my students eat snack. Meanwhile, doing all I can to not snack myself into a coma to cope with the pain of knowing you’re gone. What about your plans to see me in Vietnam and travel more of the world together? What about your goals you talked to me about last week? 10 days ago to be exact. Not to be a creeper or anything, but I did just look back at our message history. Sorry, I swear I genuinely forgot to respond to your last message. The guilt is eating away at me. I know you’re not mad at me for that though, and I’m not mad at you for leaving too soon either.

How could I be mad at you? You’ve brought so much joy into my life. I have never met anyone else who I had such fluid, fun, banter with. We’ve shared so many unforgettable adventures. It sucks that we won’t make more together or reminisce about them on the phone again. Who’s going to make fun of me all the time now? Actually, I’m sure other people will, but never like you. No one was like you.

I am mad though. I’m mad I forgot to respond. I’m mad I didn’t check in more. I’m mad that such a good person had only a short time to spread their light. I am mad that your Go Pro camera is loaded with photos and videos of us that I’ll never be able to see and cherish.

So many people cherished you, James. Your energy lit up the room, even if  you were passed out on a bean bag chair in the corner after a long day of travels. Some of the most fond memories that I’ve ever had in my life were with you by my side. I think you knew that, but I wish I told you.

Now I’ll never figure out the spaghetti song we made up when we were drunk in Hoi An. I was counting on you to remind me and make me laugh like you always do… or did. Fuck James, this just doesn’t seem real or right.

Do you remember watching the lightning in Sapa? That was a magical night. Remember that time we almost died in Ninh Binh? We talked about it last month, so of course you do. That is, if you can hear me now… What about the first day we met? I would lose my debit card a million times if I knew it would result in me needing to beg strangers for money and miraculously meet someone as incredible as you again.

I can get on with people pretty easily, but you took me by surprise. It was like I knew you my whole life. You’re like a brother to me. Forever my soul family.

You’re too good of a dude to go so soon.

Rest in paradise James Maguire 21.11.1996 – 15.7.2020