A Love Letter To

The Dreaded Question

5 months ago by

The Dreaded Question

“How was your day?”

It’s been asked of me by my parents / grandparents / aunts / uncles / lovers / boyfriends / friends / grocery store clerks too many times to count.

I dread answering it every time. It’s so broad. Too much. Seems like an insurmountable task to sum up my day and all the emotions I felt over the past twelve hours. As if you just asked me to wash an elephant in a teacup.

But recently that dreaded question became fragile when I flew to California to visit my grandfather who is nearing the end of his light. On the plane ride out I prepared a neat little speech in my head, wrapped up with a bow about how happy I was in my life. I wanted my assurance of happiness to be imparted on him during what could be our last interaction.

Because isn’t that what a grandfather, or any elderly figure, wants to hear from the young? That they are happy. When faced with not much time, what else matters besides your loved one’s happiness and health?

When I got there he stirred from his slumber and saw me and smiled. He asked me to come sit next to him, hold his hand, and then said, “tell me what you are up to.”

And that’s when I broke down and the entirety of the neat little speech all wrapped up in the bow flew out the window on the back of a crow.

Instead I just started crying and we were both a little confused as to what was happening. He was confused because he is very hard of hearing and couldn’t understand me through my sobs, and I was confused because I didn’t know why that banal question triggered waterworks that could have turned the Mojave Desert into the Amazon Rainforest.

So much for him thinking I’m happy.

When I dare myself to think about him leaving this realm, the thing that makes my throat tighten is the idea that I won’t be able to partake in the simple act of telling him what I’m doing these days (though as someone who never owned a cell phone or logged onto the Internet, he barely understands my job, but that’s another story).

I’m reckoning with the fact that it’s not just his life that ends, but that this is where he will cease to know the events of mine. He will soon no longer bear witness to my life.

For the past few years, as my grandfather was sensing this time approaching, whenever I said goodbye to him at the end of family gatherings, his parting words with chocked back tears were, “you’ll always do the right thing, won’t you?”

Such a simple and profound ask. And I can’t think of one better when faced with the fact that soon he won’t be around to witness my actions.

So do the right thing. Take the time to stop and tell your lover how your day was. Call your parents back. Take the time to tell your grandparents what you’re up to and explain the concept of Twitter. Let them be a witness to your life. Let them love you.

Because the bravest thing one can do is love something that death can touch.

13 comments

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  • Be glad you got there. I’m sorry for your loss. It never gets easier.

  • Susy Roman April, 13 2018, 4:37 / Reply

    Just beautiful.

  • Dear Veronica, I started reading your words just to have a break form my morning work and then I found myself crying in front of my laptot… your words were so moving to me, my beloved GrandMa passed by this summer and I miss her so much …She was such a moral, luminous example to me and my sisters. In the last years her interests were all focused on the family, the lives of her grandsons, hoping that all of us founded their own path and happiness; So that’s I think what you were writing about, witnessing our lives and hoping we’re doing the right thing.

    Really hope you will have him for a long time besides you

    Elena ( Firenze)

  • Veronica April, 18 2018, 11:07

    Hi Elena! Those are such sweet words about your Grandmother. I’m sure she’s so proud of the way you’re living your life. Sending you a big hug. x V

  • S Parkar April, 13 2018, 9:20 / Reply

    This is perhaps the best thing I have read on this site in years. So simple yet profound. Thank you for this, Veronica.

  • Veronica April, 18 2018, 11:08

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read. xx

  • Ton texte est très touchant.C’est vrai qu’on veut toujours rassurer nos parents, en disant que tout va bien, ne pas leur faire de peine. Mais en faisant cela, on s’empêche d’avoir une vraie communication avec eux.
    C’est ce que je fais moi-même , je le reconnais, mais ça me rend souvent triste de ne pas pouvoir partager réellement ma vie avec les personnes que j’aime.
    Est-ce que quelqu’un a une solution à ça ?

  • J’en ai les larmes aux yeux.
    Oui, tu as raison: détailler sa journée à quelqu’un peut être un signe d’amour. On a parfois peur de gêner alors que l’autre espère justement connaître et partager nos moments simples, bons comme mauvais.

  • Mélanie April, 14 2018, 11:23 / Reply

    <3

  • Florence April, 14 2018, 11:53 / Reply

    Quel beau texte!

  • Alice R. April, 15 2018, 1:00 / Reply

    I actually cried reading your text Veronica. Beautiful and very true.
    Sending you a hug.

  • Veronica April, 18 2018, 11:09

    Sending you a big hug back, Alice. xx V

  • I feel you so deeply ! My grandfather passed away 4 years ago, his voice -asking me to take care of myself, to always be authentic , and to put wise and passion in everything – is missed every single day !

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