This weekend it was so beautiful outside, the first really nice day we had in quite a while. We just decided to take a drive and see some stuff. You know those days? They don’t really have an agenda. You just drive and then say, “Hey, let’s do this”
So we started driving, and one of the things we did was pay our respects to my grandparents at their grave site. I do this kind of often, actually, because I was really close to both sets of my grandparents and while I know I can remember them anytime, I like connecting with their final resting place. You’d think this would be morbid, one of my cousins always tells me this (I texted him pictures of their grave sites one day and he said, “Now I suppose I have to keep these because I love you!” He seemed irritated, and yet, I was happy he was keeping them.)
One reason I feel good in standing at their grave site is because they chose their own and talked about how they specifically chose their “spot.” My grandma told me how nice it was, right by a path… and she was right. It’s a nice place, and on that sunny day this past weekend I could see why they felt this would be a good place to say goodbye to this world and move on to the next one.
One of my fondest memories is of my grandpa, at the very end of his life, telling me he had no regrets. I mean, think about that. None? He didn’t regret a thing, he said, and what’s more, he felt like he had snapped his fingers and his whole life had just whizzed by.
I feel like that, too, most days. Like just yesterday I was hanging out with them:
How can it be that they’re not here anymore? There are days I feel like plopping myself down at their kitchen table and talking about life. I did that a lot.
Don’t you love those glasses I have on? They’re bigger than my whole face.
I was the kind of kid that asked my grandparents a million questions. I wanted to know everything… every fight they had, every moment of joy, what their favorite memories were, how things were when they were kids… I think I was just that kind of inquisitive person (and also a writer, and you know we like to know everything).
Right after my grandpa died I wrote this poem.
In the Blink of an Eye
My grandpa used to say
that he was once a young man
and he blinked
and found he had been married 20 years.
He blinked again,
and was a grandfather.
Before he knew it
an entire family had grown
in different parts of the country
while he became an old man.
When he looked back
at his life
which had gone by too fast
he found nothing
he could regret.
© Cherie Burbach, “In the Blink of an Eye” New and Selected Poems, 2011