49 Photos

Does it ever get easier?

I know one day I’ll be able to look at his picture and tears won’t stream down my face. One day someone will ask about him and I won’t get choked up as I deliver the news yet again. One day I’ll be able to listen to stories about him without feeling a deep pit in my stomach.

But right now, it’s not easy. It’s been a month and it’s all I can think about because everything reminds me of him. Cigar smoke on the street in Vegas, Old Spice aftershave, biscuits and gravy on the menu at a breakfast joint, Veteran’s Day, old men with beards, puppies, and especially looking in the mirror.

I’m floating through these days because it doesn’t seem real. I feel as though he’s waiting in his garage, ready for us to visit him in the next couple of weeks. I’m waiting for a text saying “Kayyyyyllllaaaaaaaaa, I loveeee you” with a million emojis at the end. I’m waiting for a voicemail saying “Call your Grandpa! Love you.”

But that’s it. Those moments are but memories now.

I had a bunch of photos printed today for his memorial. The young cashier was ringing me up and said he didn’t think he knew one person that he would want to have 49 pictures of. Two thoughts ran through my mind: one – okay jackass, why are you looking through customer’s photos? and two – I’m sorry that you don’t have one person in your life that you wouldn’t want 49 pictures of. I wish I had 49 million pictures of my grandfather so that I could remember every detail of every memory I have of him. These 49 photos plus all of the other photos I have of him will allow my daughters to remember what the lines in his face looked like, how the golden gray strands of his long hair would fall, or how his bright blue eyes glistened when he smiled.

I paused for a second to really reel in the anger volcano inside, then let him know that my grandfather died and my mom needs pictures of him for the memorial, so that’s why we have 49 photos of one person. Things got awkward really quickly and like magic, the register suddenly didn’t want to work and we had to wait for a manager. I just wanted to go home. My eyes got teary, partly out of anger towards this kid and mostly because I had to buy photos for my grandfather’s memorial, which doesn’t seem real. The manager finally fixed the register, and the kid was able to ring me up. As he handed me the photos, he apologized for being awkward and said he was really sorry. Then I felt bad for the kid. What if he really didn’t have someone in his life that he would want 49 pictures of? The deep empty feeling of loneliness in my stomach, does this kid feel it all the time? Or is he just a rude ass kid snooping through people’s pictures?

On the way home, I cried and kept trying to convince myself that maybe this season of life is a weird twilight zone episode. Grandpa has passed, my little one needs surgery, I’m getting sick again, and there is a list of things that need to be addressed that just keeps piling up. This season of life is hard and yet I have to remember that others have it harder. My logical brain tells me we will get through it – just put one foot in front of the other and wake up every morning, breathe. My illogical heart tells me that everything sucks and that I should go find a deep dark cave to live in alone forever so my heart can’t break anymore.

Does it really ever get easier?

❤ La Lady Valdez

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