The Snickerdudels

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Gray: Goodbyes

By the time I got home it was late afternoon, because we stopped for lunch on the way home. Instead of my parents coming out to greet me, it was just Weston and Lisa.

“Where are Mom and Dad?” I asked after we had all of my stuff inside and Tor’s family had driven away.

Weston and Lisa looked at each other.

“And Grandma and Grandpa? And Uncle Jeremy?”

They sat me down on the couch and put their arms around me while they told me that Grandpa had a heart attack the day before. All of the adults were at the hospital with him, so Weston and Lisa were in charge.

“Is he going to be okay?” I asked.

“Mom said the doctors said he might be improving,” Lisa said.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen, Gray.”

I started crying and I couldn’t stop, but I must have at some point, because I woke up in my bed in the dark. I cried again until I fell back asleep, and in the morning when I came upstairs for breakfast, Weston told me that Grandpa had died. I felt tears coming to my eyes again, and Weston hugged me. I think he cried too, but I was shaking so hard that it was hard to tell.

Two days later, Mom gave me a black shirt that was too big for me to wear to the funeral. I was hungry during the whole service because I hadn’t eaten much since I came home from camping. After the service, we went back to the house with Grandpa’s ashes and Dad, Uncle Jeremy, and some of our distant relatives dug a hole for them in the backyard and put a nice gravestone behind it. When they were done, they came inside and the whole family ate at our house. It was really packed, but my little sisters were happy to have people to play with, and I was glad to have an appetite again.

Weston and I started running again the day after the funeral, but I cried a little bit when we passed the gravestone in the backyard. “Why’d Grandpa have to be buried here?” I asked.

Weston looked back at me. “Grandma said he didn’t like cemeteries.”

“But now I’m just going to be sad about him all the time.”

“You’ll get used to him being gone at some point. We all will.”

Even though I think that helped Weston, it didn’t help me. I just wanted Grandpa back.

In early August, Weston started packing for college. I helped him tape the boxes, but most of them were too big and heavy for me to carry upstairs, so Dad, Weston, and Uncle Jeremy took care of that.

At dinner, Mom and Dad told us that the rest of us would stay home with Grandma and Uncle Jeremy while they took Weston to college, and I started crying. “I want to come.” I said, and I didn’t know why I had to cry to say it.

“Gray,” Mom said, reaching out a hand. “I--”

“He can come,” Weston said.

“I don’t know if we have room in the car.” Dad said.

“We’ll make room.” Weston smiled at me from across the table. “It’ll be fun, right Gray?”

I nodded and tried to stop crying, but it took me a couple tries.

That Friday, Weston, my parents, and I got in the crowded car and drove to Weston’s new school. I looked through my Pokémon books in the car and stared out the window, trying not to think about saying goodbye to Weston.

When we got to his school, we all helped carry boxes and clothes into his dorm, which was on the second floor. I liked the elevator, and the college people who greeted us on Weston’s floor were really nice. We all went to Wal-mart to get some food for Weston’s mini-fridge and some hangers for his clothes. There was a Subway in the store, so we sat down and got lunch. I couldn’t stop smiling because it was so nice not to have all of my sisters around.

On the drive back to the dorm, I got sad again because there wasn’t much left for us to do except help Weston hang up his clothes, which meant we had to leave soon. When we got back to the dorm, it didn’t take us very long to hang up the clothes, and me and Mom both started crying when we said our goodbyes. Dad was the last to give Weston a hug, but he didn’t cry. Mom put her arms around me and squeezed me, and I pulled away and gave Weston one last hug.

“You going to keep running?” he asked. I nodded.

Weston smiled. “Me too, then. Deal?”

“Deal,” I said, then I sobbed. Weston gave me one last hug, and then Mom took my hand and we left.

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