Rain has always brought me comfort.
The rare winter days when skies were grey all day, my Papa D wouldn’t sit on his lounge chair in the family room, instead, he’d sit on the memory torn, faded red couch he loved dearly. I’d snuggle up next to him, and we’d talk for hours on end. His favorite topics were any new scientific theories from the theoretical physicists on the Science Channel. We’d speak of stars, planets, and life outside of what was in front of our eyes. He was an incredible listener and always made me feel like every idea I had was golden. My childhood with my grandpa felt like a science-fiction fairytale. Grandpa was the robotic king who knew everything, questioned everyone, and ruled with an iron fist. I was the malleable young princess who had so much more to learn but would one day rule in his place. I always felt the most loved on gloomy days together with him.
As the water drips from the sky this beautiful morning, I think of days spent next to the window listening to the pitter patter with my grandfather. Sipping hot chocolate, reading a book, and letting the music from professional ballroom dancing play on the television in the background. Knowledge was the backbone of being a Davis and Papa D didn’t play around with learning. The family room was his favorite room in the house. Home to his cluttered Scientific American, Popular Science, and Popular Mechanics magazines as well as slips of papers with words he needed to look up and understand more clearly or concepts that he wanted to research. The family room was the learning room. His lounge chair on the edge of the large, faded red couch was the home to many of my best thoughts. In my youth, I felt sitting in his chair would give me new ideas through osmosis. My grandfather was a mathematician and the smartest man I knew. Having come from Port Arthur during the Jim Crow era, he rose above every circumstance that life threw at him, graduated with an MA in mathematics and teaching, and went on to teach upper-level math at Manual Arts High School. There was nothing said that my grandfather accepted at face value, he’d research everything and he always told me, “question everything, never allow someone else to make your choices for you without a say of your own.” I’d dance on his toes and think up more reasons to talk to him. He was my hero.
When I lost him at 17, I lost a piece of myself. The grandest, most thoughtful, and incredibly inquisitive part of myself. I’ve been chasing the way he made me feel since his untimely departure due to cancer. He was supposed to walk me down the aisle, be my first dance at my wedding, hold the great-grandbabies I gave him and teach them the same way he taught me. He was supposed to be so proud of the woman I became. It’s been tough accepting that I’ll never get those experiences. He lived a great life, traveled the world, had a home, children, and was an honorable and wonderful man who lived to learn. Now it’s my turn to honor him and what he taught me. Running away from deep thought, hiding from the intensity that was bred deeply in my bones, and trying to fit into a mold that isn’t shaped for me has been more stress than I needed or that he would have wanted for me.
Death is a tough pill to swallow and while I’ve experienced a lot of it in my life, losing my grandparents was the hardest to get over. I still haven’t and I don’t think I ever really will. I dropped out of high school following the death of my grandfather and I moved to Milwaukee following the death of my grandmother at 22. Their loss was comparable to losing parents. They raised me, taught me, and loved me as deeply as they could – I felt it to my core. I did eventually graduate from high school, two years later than I should have, and I did eventually move back to LA after a terrible year in Wisconsin with Joseph and his philandering ways.
What I know now is I can’t run away from death. I can’t avoid loving people in fear of losing them one day. I can’t allow the fact that I’ve experienced such deep losses keep my heart in a cage. Mr. Black told me yesterday morning, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” I think I’ve let myself suffer for long enough and my Papa D would be so disappointed seeing his granddaughter putting her life on hold because of his death. I can’t let that be his legacy.
He loved me too much for me to let him down like that.