Grandpa’s cancer Was another grown-up problem, I thought It would be over soon. Just like tax season Or retirement or an oil change. The Mayhem of cousins and ringing telephones Was exciting for a while but I wanted my house To be focused on happy things and Me again.
It seemed just days since the doctor Didn’t mention cancer, but apparently He was wrong. They’re saying something About two weeks and Grandma’s crying Again while a curtain goes Up around him and I know to Stay away when the ladies come in their Nurse uniforms.
It was all I could do not to shudder When Grandma told me to hold his hand And tell him I loved him. I whispered the words In a voice cold and jaundiced like his Hands. They gave small Response and I wished I could bring him A banana to make him smile Like he used to.
Dad pulled up a chair and a hymnal, And we sang of when this passing world is Done, and it sounded like glory While the dying pastor looked beautiful for A moment. I thought I must have Impressed him with my voice And pretty Christianity.
The new morning routine of peeking in to see What kind of flowers or crying People had appeared had become Comfortable and I didn’t know what to do That time there was an empty bed And nothing else.
Where did he go, Dad? He said that day was the happiest because Grandpa was with Jesus. I Thought that sounded nice but wondered What it had to do with me. I didn’t seem To love him as much as everyone else did. Grandpa or Jesus.
My seven-year-old heart didn’t break at death Or melt at glory Until it became sixteen, reading A letter from Sixteen years ago—words from The heart of that quiet man who Loved me and Jesus, from his knees at my birth And ever since. Too much time and sin later, Love Finally rings real in my heart too, once-dead but now Throbbing heavenward To tell him.