Thursday Thoughts: Grief

Today, I wanted to bring back a series that has been a long time coming. I have taken up journaling every night as part of my New Year's resolution. As much discipline as it takes to unplug and write for 15- 20 minutes, I know that the product will be invaluable. I wish I could say it was a wonderful experience that inspired me to make time in my full time working life to write again. 

Apart from my mother, we have not really put this on social media, but on Monday, we lost my grandfather. I'm incredibly fortunate to have lived to the age of 22 with four living grandparents, now in their 80's. This is the first death of a close family member, and it is proving to be more overwhelming than I could ever have imagined. I distinctly remember a Lemony Snicket quote that I could never truly relate to until this week:

“If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels; and if you haven’t, you cannot possibly imagine it.”


I knew what the call from my dad was about before I answered it. My grandfather had been in and out of the hospital a lot for the past year. I have only seen my dad cry twice in my life- when I left for college and that moment in my office on the other end of the phone- it killed me. 

I remember one of the last times I saw my grandfather last year. My brother T.R. and I took a red eye flight on New Year's Eve from Seattle to Boston. It's hard to see someone you love sick- T.R. was particularly nervous of needles and medical equiptment. It was a Sunday afternoon and the only thing that he wanted to do with us was watch the Patriots game. For a few hours, we sat and watched them beat the Dolphins, talking occasionally to tell him about school or our younger brother, Jackson. Our whole lives he had been the one who instilled our love of sports, particularly the Red Sox. The year they won, in 2004, T.R. was gifted practically the entire gift shop. Other years, after a devastating football or baseball playoffs loss, we would ring up his usual 508 number to be on the receiving end of a "we'll get 'em next year." He was the kind of guy who was always a little too tan in the winter and was rarely seen without his aviators. 

Last summer, when I lived with them, my grandmother always reminded me to adjust the driver's seat the way he liked- with the seat and recliner back all the way, the way no person should ever drive. I hope to one day display his "TS1" Massachusetts license plate that he had to retire after a few years because it was too easy for the cops to pull him over in the 70's. We had time to prepare for his death, but nothing can really prepare you. What chokes me up is thinking about him not being there at our small Sheehy family events, quietly watching with his magnifying glass, reading a newspaper or whatever book was on the coffee table. Every Christmas, he and Gramma would make the 9 hour drive down to D.C., and they would celebrate Christmas with us before we would leave to celebrate Christmas Day on the West Coast. This Christmas, we went to Cape Cod, hoping he would be able to make the journey down. He couldn't come, but even still his presence was there. I remember one of the last things I said to him on the phone Christmas night a few weeks ago to his hospital room: "I love you, and I'll talk to you soon." Even after this week, I will always be talking to him. Death doesn't change that. 

I expect that grief will come and go in points. There are many things that will forever remind me of him- every time I pass through Saratoga and think of the early mornings in August we would drive up to see the races, smelling a cigar or wonder how he ever met Whitey Bulger (even in the early years). Seeing his seat at the hockey rink at Trinity College or the beautiful view of Fenway Park. The peeling stickers of our colleges on the back of his car. His thick Boston accent that could never locate an "R." I will miss asking about him on the phone when I call my grandma, or addressing letters to the two of them at 79 Pine. 

This weekend, I will be taking a train up to the familiar station of Route 128 to be with my family, and I will meet them at the end of the long escalator as always. 

At 3:05 PM on Sunday, we will be watching the Patriots kick off against the Jaguars at Gillette, together in Natick. Be it at a local bar or in the family room with the terrible red carpet, where he has watched Lord knows how many AFC championships, I know he will be with us. (Image)


I would like to dedicate this post to my wonderful, beloved grandfather, 
Thomas Mago Sheehy 
1934-2018

2 comments

  1. So proud of you and your strength during this difficult time. Always thinking of you and your family!

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