‘Moving On’ is a Myth


photo from Kate Haas

My alarm rang at 5:00 a.m. on Oct. 26 and I started to pack up my water jug, garment bag and mellophone for one of the last football games of the season. It was still dark outside when my mom told me my Gramma Lucy had passed away during the night. 

Three months later I climbed into my car, “Newsies” playbill still in hand, and got a text from my parents: “We need to talk when we get home.” I sat waiting at the dining room table shaking, heart racing, until they got home. My dad sat down next to me, took my hand and told me, “your Grandpa Chris killed himself.” My always-stoic father collapsed, tears breaking his face and streaming together with mine. We sat there for a long time. 

Another two months went by and my great-granddaddy, the patriarch of my mom’s Louisiana roots who we could always count on to be watching college football in his big recliner chair, passed away shortly after his 93rd birthday with my mom at his side after difficult weeks of sickness and hospice. 

Needless to say, my family is pretty broken right now. 

My brother and I spent so many of our childhood days eating popsicles in my grandparents’ pool, walking to the lake with my grandma to feed the ducks and being given way too much British candy from my grandpa. They lived 20 minutes away from us my whole life — we never went to daycare or had a babysitter because we had them. We would drive six hours to Lafayette (which my mom still calls ‘home’ after living in Texas for over 30 years) at least once every month to see my great grandpa, eat cinnamon toast together and play under the Crepe Myrtle in the backyard. 

I grew up with such strong relationships with all my grandparents, and that is still something very special to me that I will always be grateful for. 

Just like all my friends, my junior year was riddled with AP classes, college research and stressing out about my future, but none of them could ever know what I was going through on the inside. In San Antonio for the UIL State Marching Contest, it felt like everyone was completely immersed in the hype of competition. All I could think about was how much time I lost with my grandma because of band commitments leading up to her death — how much more I could’ve been there for her, how many more afternoon teas we could’ve shared. 

It took me weeks to write this, a year after my grandma passed away, having to play a game of Mario Kart every other sentence so I didn’t cry. I don’t understand how people ‘move on.’ I didn’t understand in the months after my grandma died, it became even more foreign to me when my grandpa killed himself because of his grief and it was entirely lost to me when my great grandpa passed. I struggle to comprehend how God could let me last a whole beautiful childhood without facing the death of a loved one, then take three of them from me in less than half of a year. 

I miss them more every single day. Everyone thinks I’m fine now because time has passed, but I’m not. It gets worse and worse the more events, holidays and milestones pass that they can’t be a part of. It’s not fair that they got to watch my brother walk across the stage at graduation, but they won’t be able to see me do the same two years later. I hate that the idea of Christmas at home without them haunts my family so much, we’re going to spend the holidays 1,082 miles away from home. I hate that I can’t hear my grandpa’s stories anymore even though I used to get tired of hearing the same ones over and over again. 

‘Moving on’ is a myth. My life has changed completely since last winter. I still feel numb and I still feel sadness every day of my life. My family and I have struggled with forgiveness and faith and learning how to function with the emptiness my grandparents’ absence has left in us, and we’re always going to struggle with this. I’ve retaught myself how to act normal again, but I don’t feel normal on the inside. I don’t have a choice but to keep going and keep living, but I know that I’m never going to ‘move on.’