I was talking to a girl once. She's a sweet person, but she has a ton of New Age-y kinda beliefs, which are fun to listen to and think about. But I've noticed with those things, putting them in a practical setting is like eating cotton candy for dinner. It leaves you unsatisfied and maybe even pissed off. She was talking about how death was beautiful and natural, how there was goodness in death. I interrupted her and (politely, I hope) told her I thought that was bullshit.
The one thing everyone has in common is death. It's inevitable. You'd think after living on this planet for 50,000 years we'd be used to it by now.
You've probably guessed by now that someone close to me died recently. This is true. His name was Bill Kiely. He was a close family friend.
I hate how that sounds. It sounds impersonal, like it doesn't even mean anything. You're supposed to be allotted two grandfathers when you're born. Well, biologically, I only got one, because my father's father was an ass. Kiely was the second grandfather I was supposed to have. I'm sure my dad wouldn't have minded trading his biological father for Kiely.
For as long as I can remember, during the time that we've lived in St. Louis, we would go to Kiely's house for martial arts training. 'We' is used loosely. It was always my dad, sometimes my brothers, a few times my mom (more often when she was younger) and a lot of times me. We'd chat for a little bit and then at 4 sharp, go down to the basement and work out. Afterwards we'd go back upstairs for sodas and candy.
Every time I'd walk in the door, Kiely would immediately stand, hug me, and plant a big wet kiss on my cheek. He'd say, "Hi sweetie! How are you?" He'd call me sweetheart, precious, beautiful, and inform anyone in the general vicinity that I was a killer, and they'd better watch out. "She only looks sweet and innocent," He'd say with a knowing glint in his eye. Then my dad would gleefully relate the story of how I accidentally put my doctor in a finger lock, or how when I was sixteen I threatened a guy who tried to grab me with my knife. When we'd go downstairs how he'd take pictures of me standing, kneeling, or more commonly, while I was throwing a guy twice my size. He was so absolutely delighted when he gave me my green belt. He was so happy when I started to focus hardcore last summer on trying to get my brown belt. I know he wanted to promote me himself.
I don't like writing this in past tense.
As Kiely grew older, his health declined. He had trouble keeping his balance. I can't count the times my dad's yelled at him for trying to do a move that he wasn't supposed to be doing. He had a stroke over Christmas break, and it wasn't his first stroke. We visited him at the hospital, and he complained about wanting to leave. He hugged me and I sat across from him on his bed, and told him sternly that he needed to promise me that he'd be good and relax and let the doctors do whatever they needed to do. He promised me because he didn't like seeing me upset and concerned over him.
When I went back to my college, my dad told me to call him weekly. I'm ashamed to say I only called two or three times. I guess my brain wouldn't allow the possibility that he wouldn't always be there.
Last Sunday, my dad called me around noon. I was half-asleep, and when I'm sleepy and people call me on the phone I tend to stare at my caller ID, confused. I snapped out of my bewilderment and listened to my dad's voicemail and I knew something was wrong. He had his 'bad news' voice and the message told me to call him as soon as possible.
I called him back. He told me that earlier in the morning Kiely had passed away. Then my dad choked up and couldn't talk anymore.
It didn't seem real. I just sat there on my bed in shock for hours. It didn't feel real. It felt like it was some awful mistake, like I could call him up right now and hear his voice. It's felt like that for the past few days.
Till this morning, when everything just flooded at me all at once. When I come visit, and I go to Kiely's house on Sundays like I usually do, he's not going to be there. He's not going to call me 'sweetheart', 'beautiful', 'killer', 'vicious' ever again. If I ever do make it to brown belt, which I want, he's not going to get to see it. He's not going to argue with my dad about what he should or shouldn't be doing on the mats, they're not going to insult each other back and forth, he's not going to brag to other people about how I could single-handedly mutilate them...he's not going to, ever again.
I don't like writing him in past tense. He shouldn't be in past tense.
I'm not okay. I'm not dealing with this well. I'm dealing with this alone, because I'm 200 miles away from my family and that was my decision and it was a stupid decision because I want my mommy and daddy to hug me and cry with me and make me tea and never ever leave the safety of my down comforter again. I don't wanna be the grown-up anymore.
I'm not okay.