As of shortly after 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, I no longer have any grandparents.

I grew up with three…one maternal and two paternal…and I’ve buried all of them in the last eight years.

When my maternal grandmother passed, we had a sort of false alarm a couple of weekends before. Karen and I had packed and were leaving for an impromptu trip to attempt to maximize those final moments with her, when her condition unexpectedly improved. We turned around and went home, both tired from the week and glad to avoid a few hours on the road. We questioned briefly whether or not there would be wisdom in going to see her anyway, but ultimately decided that we would not.

Forgetting the clinical principle that there is frequently a spontaneous partial recovery just before a catastrophic crash, I lived to regret that decision.

Years later, Karen and I were returning from an unplugged vacation. I turned my phone on for the first time in a week, to be greeted with the voicemail that my grandfather was gone. We returned from vacation only to pack and travel again for a funeral. That time, I hadn’t seen it coming. I remember watching my grandmother say goodbye during the grave-side service, and marveled at her strength as she proceeded forward with her life as she always had. She had a firm constitution, and had lived through more than her share of hardships. She had endured more than I likely will ever have to, and she had figured out a way to make it through each time. She had always done so with her partner, though, and this would be a new…and unenviable…phase of the journey into which she would enter.

She carried on for years until this week. An unfavorable diagnosis a little over a month ago heralded what would be a fast decompensation…faster than we anticipated. At the end, she knew no one. Her transitioning on was a merciful relief.

I’m of the age at which losing grandparents is to be expected. I grieved late for the first. When I received the call for the second, I asked Karen to please keep me distracted for the day…I couldn’t work through the grief in that moment. When I received the call for the third early this week…and I knew why the phone was ringing, because, whether it be the odd time or some other sensory perception that we suddenly possess in such moments, we just know…I talked with my family about it, and then I kept working.

I’m sad. I’m remembering different moments that I had with both grandparents while they were alive. Mostly, I’ve just kept going with life. When I pause to think, though, I consider the time in the future when we tell our daughter something to the effect of, “You were very young when she died,” perhaps while looking at photos or something of the sort. This grandmother was the only one of my grandparents to have met our daughter. I’m so glad that she did. I think that the thrust of what overwhelms me…whenever I pause to let myself feel something like overwhelmed…is that, with my grandparents gone, I know what the next phase of loss in my life will be. That is a thought that I keep at arm’s length, a darkness which I cannot contemplate.

Sufficient for today are it’s losses.

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