I am 16 years old and I do not remember a time when my grandfather was not lying on his bed mattress surrounded by orange containers of pills and pills of antidepressants. I don’t remember that photo we took as he held me in his arms with an unfamiliar smile on his face. I don’t remember him taking me to Chuck E. Cheese where we would laugh together. I don’t remember his smile. I don’t remember his laugh.
My grandpa was diagnosed with depression during a time when I didn’t understand mental illness.
Months passed and I couldn’t comprehend why his door was still closed. Years passed and I didn’t understand why the medications weren’t working.
“Your grandfather just overthought too much.”
“Don’t stress over something so small, you don’t want to turn out like your grandpa.”
“He is just too caught up in his thoughts.”
“Stay away from his door, Kristine. Grandpa doesn’t want to be bothered.”
“That grandpa of yours, doesn’t even try to visit you anymore.”
“Kristine, when did you start wearing glasses?” he asked me one day. I was startled by his question. I was in 7th grade with a new haircut, fresh braces, and a hint of a growth spurt. Yet, he noticed the black rimmed glasses I had owned for about a year.
“Kristine, when did you start wearing contacts?” he asked me another time. I was in 9th grade; a high schooler with a glint in my eye and a piece of candy in between my teeth. Yet, he noticed the disappearance of the glasses I rarely wore for pictures and the ones I hid near a cute boy.
Something was wrong with his eye. That’s all my parents were ever willing to tell me.
I remember my relatives scornfully muttering about his ungratefulness when he didn’t take the medication, when his left eye started graying and would never be seen through again.
I used to share their thoughts.
It is now that I realize how likely the possibility was,
that while I was focusing on viewing my life more clearly,
he was trying to figure out why
he did not want to see this world anymore.
It is now that I do not turn a blind eye to the man that used to love me so.