Four: The Mayor's Will
I’ve known grief.
I experienced it for the very first time when i was a kid after my cousin died in a car accident. Again when my grandmother passed away.
But you know that.
An hour ago, when I got back from the party, Jeff followed me inside and sat with me as my parents broke the news. My grandfather died.
Funny how the best moment of your life can change just like that, into the worst.
I knew it was coming. After grandma passed he was so sad. I just thought I would have one more summer with him before this happened.
I’ll miss him.
Apparently, he left me in his will. Grandpa always told me i would inherit something big. I feel like shit now even though I was just a kid when I asked about that.
It hurts now, because I understand what a Will is. I understand that it means I’m never going to see him again.
A lawyer is coming over in an hour to talk with me about it. I’m not sure I’m ready for that.
This grief, it hurts.
The lawyers wanting to discuss the will and funeral arrangements come over a little earlier. I have to pull myself together quickly and gain somewhat of a clear mind to understand what they’re saying.
“We’re very sorry for your loss. If the details weren’t as is we could have given you more time to grieve.”
Apparently, my grandfather had been dead for a week before someone found him. It took an entire week before someone went looking for him and found him alone and dead in his living room chair. He had died with the false belief that he was truly alone.
The coroner’s reported it natural causes. I wonder if heartbreak was that natural cause, and if so, am I next?
Me and my grandfather had this bond that no one would ever be able to understand. Even though he wasn’t always at my side, I could feel his presence. As a child my parents had been too wrapped up in themselves, the result of a teen pregnancy and not being able to grow up, so that meant any chance they got, I was pushed out their door and into my grandparents’. They had both been there for me and had been the role models I needed.
That’s why losing them both hurts so damn bad.
“Arnold?” The lawyer looks up, his gaze searching for me.
“Right here,” I say, walking over to where he’s sitting at the kitchen table.
“This is for you.” He hands me a heavy box. “It’s from your grandfather.”
The weight of the box in my hand with an envelope tucked under the rope keeping it closed, near matches the weight in my chest where my heart once was.
On the front of the letter is a wax seal holding it closed. I smile as the memory of my grandfather’s prized seal maker pops into my head.
It was by far his favorite thing to use. Every time my mom or dad got the mail and I saw an envelope with the chunk of wax on it I knew my grandfather wrote to me.
I’m not sure if I’m ready to break the seal on the letter. It will be the very last time I do and the thought alone makes it hard to breathe.
Wordlessly, I leave the dining room and go downstairs to my room.
I place down the box and open a window because my grandparents scent is wafting from the box. It smells of grandmas old perfume and home.
It makes the grief feel smothering.
As I stand by the window, all I can do is stare at what i have left of my grandparents.
I inhale deeply, trying to breathe through the sudden onslaught of sadness.
It doesn’t work. A few tears escape my eyes and I cant wait any longer. I detach the letter from the wrapped box and open it. The breaking of the seal has more tears springing from my eyes to the point that I can’t even fucking see the letter anymore.
I take a deep breath and wipe my eyes with the sleeve of my sweater, then read.
As each line passes under my eyes, the pain in my heart increases. He wrote about memories, about the love and relationship between us, why he was so thankful and proud to have me as his grandson.
The last paragraph has my tears rolling again.
Don’t forget the memories, that’s what we are now. We’ll always be by your side, when you graduate, when you marry, when you have that grandbaby your grandma was always dreaming about. And hopefully, we’ll be there once you graduate again, Harvard all the way son! Unless you want to settle down of course, me and grandma did that too.
She’s bothering me about pressuring you into that college, she says fate will guide you. You know how she is.
Anyways, son, you’ll have plenty of new memories in the future, hopefully like the crazy fun ones I had in my youth. And hey! You better, because I’m giving you the mansion.
The one you dreamed of as a kid!
Live. I’ll be there every step of the way.
I move the letter aside and sure enough, there is the deed to the Wicker mansion, a key taped to it and a second small note.
Fix her up for me son, hopefully grandma isn’t too mad when I see her again. Love you, Arnold.
I want to laugh, to cry, and to give my grandfather one last hug. I settle for the first two, falling to the floor on my ass laughing and sobbing like a fucking mad man.
My heart lightens after a while, so I open the box.
Inside is his old wax stamp kit and the baseball mitts we played with when I was a child. There’s even a collection of awards from the fairs and contests I participated in during the summers I spent with them.
I run my hands over my face and take a last deep breath as I take in the sight of all that’s left of the life I shared with my grandparents. An outsider might see the boxes contents as nothing more than junk, but me, I see it as everything.