Oh Sweet Willie…

The phone rang. It was my mom. She always calls me. Constantly. She’s my mom. But this time, the conversation would be different. “Candace, get to the hospital.” On the other end of the call was not my mom. It was a daddy’s girl in the midst of losing her daddy. Her first love.

I gathered myself, excused myself from work and began my journey to the hospital. I can remember praying and asking for God’s will to be done. As I crossed Vandeventer, made a right on Enright and parked my Toyota Solara, I thought of all the times I visited my grandparents. My grandfather, affectionately known to me as pawpaw, would sit in a hunter green plastic lawn chair placed right near the window of their tiny apartment. I can see him now, peering out of those off white mini blinds to watch me find a parking lot on Longacre. I wondered if I’d ever have the chance to see him there again.

I frantically rushed through the hallways, desperate to find my way to him. I was greeted by my family in the waiting room. There, I saw the strongest of my aunts shed tears. That left me with little hope.

I walked through the intensive care unit alongside my cousin Janell. Both of our belly stretched further than we’d ever imagine they would be. We held hands at his bedside. For the last time, he would call me ‘Candy Baby’ as he always did. As a child, I thought I’d always have him.

We left the room. We left the hospital and brought dinner for ourselves. Michelle, Janell and I — cousins but more like sisters. This was all too much for us but we had each other.

For the last time, I stood by my pawpaw. Marc was there. We stood together. We felt his body cooling down. I held my belly, wishing pawpaw would somehow have a chance to see me give birth to my first child. But that wouldn’t happen.

I drove home in tears. My heart was broken. I know this is the circle of life but I couldn’t wrap my head around my grandmother not having her husband. My mom not having her daddy. Me not having my pawpaw — for me, never having the opportunity to be a daddy’s girl — he was everything to me.

A few hours later, while Dorian and I sat on our beige sofa in the living room of our first apartment together, the phone rang. Instantly tears rolled down my face as I looked at that Samsung Galaxy. It was Janell. I hesitated but I answered. “He’s gone now,” she said in a soft still voice. Tears quietly rolled down my face. Dorian rubbed my leg and gave me a gentle kiss on the forehead.

I’ve always had my grandparents. No matter what, my grandparents were always there for me. It’s been five years now. I still miss him. Now his wife is with him — but that’s a story for another time.

I miss them both.