for nine months
my grandfather had been diagnosed with
and for nine months
my mom had been expecting
my baby sister.
life and death waved
at each other
from across the street
during those two weeks in may.
i imagine them there
exchanging their universes
i wonder if they made eye contact if he reached his hand out
and they met
in this brief moment
of neither time nor space
but something in between
as my mom always says, was larger than life
“if you’re not living on the edge,“
he used to say,
“you’re taking up too much space.”
at his funeral
he arrived on a projection screen
in a white suit, standing amongst the clouds,
proclaiming he missed us all from heaven.
managing the feat of being at his own funeral.
i remember papa vividly,
but like old film
memories become grainy
still, the outlines are all there
monthly, he would take to the movies and we’d share a popcorn.
giggling as our hands touched
then the toy store,
ice cream then dinner,
preferably in that order
yearly vacations with crashing waves,
the sand shifting beneath our toes,
him holding up a bagel, lox, and cream cheese, exclaiming,
“this is heaven!”
papa, was it true? is that what heaven’s like?
being five years old, when papa was diagnosed with brain cancer
and being disappointed
because our plans to go to the circus were canceled.
i remember his last day,
sun streaming through the skylight onto his bed,
my head resting on the sheets, his breath causing them to rise
up and down, up and down
we both faced the ocean
the blue: the brightest i had ever seen it
did you know that sometimes in synagogue, i pray to you?
i’m sorry i didn’t cry at your funeral.
i tried, but i couldn’t understand what death meant yet.
i didn’t understand that it meant no more
or family vacations
or your hugs
i didn’t know it meant you wouldn’t see me grow up
mark milestones with ice cream
now, preferably dairy free
graduate from the toy store to bookstores
from picture books to politics
teach me how to tell the stories you were always so good at telling
i didn’t know that between me and you
i will forever be 6
and you will forever be 71.
i miss you
i don’t know what happens when we die.
but one day
one day, i know
i’ll meet him in the movie theater in the sky
and we’ll giggle when our hands touch
as we share some divine popcorn.