A Goodbye Without Closure: Mourning my Grandfather

by Emma Bartholomay '20

This year has been filled with so much loss. I lost one grandfather earlier this year. As hard as it was, I had my friends and family around me to help. As things were beginning to look better, the virus cut my senior year short. I lost my senior prom, senior chapel, and a graduation ceremony. I was feeling the loss of my senior year when my phone rang. My dad told me that my Papa (my father’s father) had died.

My Papa had been in a hospital in New York recovering from pneumonia. As far as I knew he wasn’t getting any better, but he wasn’t any worse. Being in New York it was already hard for my family to visit. Only one person was allowed in the room with him at a time. Soon after my father returned to Chicago after visiting Papa, the hospital went into complete shutdown. No one was allowed in.

My Grandfather was one of those people who looked like he would live forever. He was a force to be reckoned with. At family events like Christmas, reunions, or birthdays he was always there. When he entered the room everyone noticed; he had such an amazing presence. Even at 90 years old he continued to work with two personal trainers, traveled abroad, and continued to work with the Atlanta Braves. Even though he was very busy he always had time for his friends and family. He had this way of making you feel like you were the only person in the room he wanted to talk to. He was stubborn to a fault. He lived a life that was full and touched so many lives. He never stopped moving or working, and I always knew that the day he did would be the day he died. I was right. He fought to get better, but it was a battle he couldn’t win.

When I got the call I felt like a piece of me broke. I had just mourned the loss of one grandfather, and it was happening all over again. I sobbed when I first heard the news but then went numb. All I wanted was to give my dad a hug, but because he lives in Chicago and the virus had begun to spread it was the one thing I couldn’t do. I was angry at the world. A part of me still is. My Papa was alone. Yes, he was surrounded by some of the best doctors and nurses, but I just wished someone from our family was there with him. I feel no closure. No funeral can be held because of the restrictions on gatherings. We can’t even properly honor him right now. I know that one day we will have the opportunity to have a memorial but right now all I feel is guilt. I feel guilty that I can’t be there for my father or Papa even though I know it is out of my control, but I can’t help it. How am I supposed to move on when I didn’t even get to say goodbye?

This virus has taken so much and it will continue to take. I have felt the pain caused by this virus and continue to feel its effects. The thing that keeps me sane right now is knowing that my grandfather would want me to be strong and live a life well lived. I, like many others, will come out of this stronger. We must continue to rely on the people around us and continue to reach out when we need it.