It’s been a while, and it’s been a tough while at that. My grandfather, Homer, died last week. That fact alone should give you an idea how I’ve been.

I don’t want to go into deep detail or anything, but I do want to talk about it a little. Homer had a heart attack. He was found slumped over in his car. He was 82. He had diabetes and hadn’t been in the best health over the past few years. My mom pointed out that she should have known that he wasn’t doing well — he was confused lately, missed holidays, got lost on the way to her old house once.

I’m really upset. I miss him, and love him, and sometimes it hits me that I’m never going to see him ever again, and it makes me miserable. But in spite of that, I’ve accepted it. I’m at peace with it, and I was at peace from the beginning. He had a long life, and had an especially wonderful past few years with his wife, Maryann, whom he married four years ago. That makes it easier to deal with.

Homer was my grandmother’s companion since just before I was born. He was always my grandfather, and he was my only grandfather, since both of my parents’ fathers died when they were teenagers.

He once came to my Humanities class freshman year of high school to talk about his experiences being a black soldier during World War II and his experiences at war and at home afterward, and how he was treated. (Later, I overheard a few of my classmates saying, “I didn’t know Kate was black!” I decided to let them wonder.)

Wakes are always the worst part. Seeing the body and kneeling in front of it is awful. This is the time when everyone cries the most.

And I don’t understand the point of praying for someone’s soul. Unless you honestly believed that they might not have gotten into heaven. Whenever I hear that someone has died, I always think, “God, please help their family.” Now I was the family. I kneeled in front of the casket, tears falling down (I try my hardest not to cry in public like that, but it doesn’t get worse than that), and thought, “Goodbye. I love you. Watch over us. Protect us. Keep us safe, keep us healthy, keep us together for a long time.”

I’ve always felt that when people die, they become omniscient. If at any point I think about Noni — my grandmother who was with Homer — I just know that she hears me, she knows what I’m thinking, and she knows exactly what’s going on. It’s the same for everyone who’s dead. And yes, this means that they know every single thing you do.

But there’s a hole in the logic, or if not a hole, it’s just an unnerving reality. Once I was in the shower and thinking about people who are dead, and my thoughts turned to Mr. Swanson, one of my Humanities teachers from high school. In fact, he was the teacher who put together Homer’s visit. (Now, don’t get up on me about thinking about Mr. Swanson in the shower. Don’t try to tell me that you don’t do any random thinking in the shower!!) And I thought to myself — WAIT. IF HE KNOWS THAT I’M THINKING ABOUT HIM, HE PROBABLY SEES ME NAKED. IF HE KNOWS EVERYTHING, HE KNOWS WHAT I LOOK LIKE NAKED. EEK!!

Well, nowadays, I just relax and think to myself that if random people know what I look like naked, they’re probably peaceful and accepting about it.

I have to say that it was really nice to meet so much of Homer’s family, who came up from D.C. and Georgia. It’s too bad that you only see family at funerals or weddings. And I haven’t been to a lot of weddings.

The party after the funeral was nice. We were eating great food and talking and laughing. One of Homer’s nephew’s is the CEO of Cracker Barrell (seriously. And jokes were told, and he told me to watch what I said!). And Homer’s sister Ruby, who we stayed with in D.C. once, wore the most AMAZING outfit — a champagne-colored suit, tailored beautifully with a bell-shaped skirt, trimmed with fur, with a matching hat and gold shoes. And a cream-colored cape trimmed with more fur. I gushed over how much I loved it. Now THAT’S a funeral outfit!

And then my mom stood up and suggested we tell stories and anecdotes about Homer, since there hadn’t been eulogies at the Mass. She started by talking about how she always loved how Homer would take her hand for a dance with him, since she never got to have a dance with her own father. She started crying, and that set me off again. And of course, she then looked at me and said, “Kate?” Like I could continue after that! I deferred to Sarah. I forget what she said; I was trying to get under control. And then I spoke, telling the story that everyone loves. I couldn’t help crying through it. When I was four or so, or at least when Sarah was a baby, I was walking with Homer and Noni on the beach (and know that whenever it pertains to my childhood, “the beach” is Revere Beach) and I kept putting rocks in Homer’s pockets. I put in so many that his sweatpants were falling down. Noni tried telling me that that was enough, but I kept putting in more, and Homer just kept smiling and laughing and holding up his pants.

Next, Sandy gave such a moving eulogy, I think everyone in the room was crying. I’ve always known Sandy as a friend of my mom’s family, but I never knew that she was the one who introduced Homer and Noni. And then Maryann’s daughter Krystal started to speak. She said that Homer was the only father she had ever known, but then she began crying so hard she couldn’t finish. Maryann hugged her, and she said, “I just wish….” and we all knew what she meant. She’s pregnant with her first child, and she wishes that Homer had a chance to meet the baby, and vice versa.

What I know more than anything is that Homer and Noni are together — she helped him across the bridge, as my mom always says — and my auntie Jill said, “She probably yelled, ‘What took you so long?'” That’s what matters. And though I feel so bad for Maryann, I know she’ll be okay.

I didn’t think I could write about anything else until I wrote about Homer. I’m feeling better now.

Thanks especially to Erica and Lisa, and to Nadine and Curran and Max and Mike at work for being so nice to me and understanding this past week.