Friday, December 7, 2012

Captain, My Captain

In the end, moments are all we have. Strung together, twinkling lights. Twisting story lines marked by bright spots. Some are planned. Some, spontaneous. Some thrust upon you, offering a few ticks of the clock to decide what to mold, create before its gone.
I just spoke to my grandpa for the last time. I am certain. He could barely summon the words, "I love you, I love you," as my father gently sponged drops of water into his shaking, open mouth. Josh and I chanted prayers with him, just as we've done every day since his birthday.
We know the day he decided to go. He told us in his no-nonsense kind of way. I love that about him. And like that, he changed. Up until that day, every single time I ever talked to Cap't on the phone, I'd say, "Goodbye." And he'd hang up. The conversation was over, after all. No need for formalities. He never withheld tender words or tokens of his immense affection. Sure was stingy with goodbyes though.
After that day he decided to go, however, he started saying goodbye on the phone. He'd linger afterwards and I couldn't hang up, stunned at his gift. Seconds would turn to minutes until I was sitting in the ornate, yellow chair next to his bed. I'd have time to float across a continent, walk past his plum tree, up to the always-open-door, past the paintings, hand-thrown bowls, mementos of his humanitarian globe-trotting, bright colors favored by my grandmother long since passed herself from that very room. And into his room, where he lie, waiting. I'd sit and wait with him until I had the courage to hang up.
Snap me back.
Because I'm still here. On my island. On an island.
Sometimes, in the middle of those bright spots, you recognize what they are, how they'll look to our future selves. You start grabbing, demanding--remember this! Take it all in and hold tight! Those exact words. The painting hanging behind him. My father's hand resting on his shoulder as he bent to kiss my Captain's forehead in my name. His far away look. And as he gives less and less to this physical world, we begin to hold on to eyebrow raises, slight lifts of his hand, a change in the cadence of his breathing. Because this is all we know, really. This world.
And whatever you believe about what is next for my Captain, it happens all the same. His life transforms; he lives elsewhere. In memories, in the things he's collected, in the fibers of ourselves that he transformed, in his patients the world around who now hear because of him, are linguists and musicians and joyous people given a life so vastly different. You were likely affected by this man in some way, too. If you've ever had surgery, or known someone who has, which used a microscope--that was my grandfather who first introduced its use. A true innovator with an immense love for humanity. He steered the ship for many. My Captain.
I believe his soul takes flight, lingers and soars. And its a time to rejoice:

"O My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain."
I love you, Cap't.

1 comment:

  1. My grandpa, Dr. William F. House, has been mentioned in various places in the last few weeks. Here, the New York Times covers his life: