There was a funeral. It was exhausting. But over ritual 6AM coffee at my grandpa’s favourite (and only) coffee haunt the morning we drove back, it settled into my bones that I knew I would come back. I knew it surrounded by his friends, where nothing needs to be said but a comment here and there on the baseball game the night before, and the latest happenings in “the big town”.
His favourite waitress came to the funeral. As everyone filed past, shaking hands and speaking words, she introduced herself. “I know,” I said. I did. Every morning, my grandpa would walk through the restaurant doors and call out “‘Morning, Norma,” before settling into the same seat he had settled into for years. She’d bring him a cup of coffee, and ask him how he was doing. “Oh,” he’d say, “Same as always”. At the funeral, I pulled her into a hug. Shakily, she said ” I’m going to miss him,” as tears welled up. “I know,” I said, “Me too”.
When I walked through the restaurant doors at 6:00 in the morning, I saw her, heavy-handed with coffee carafes.
“‘Morning, Norma,” I said.
She looked up and smiled, a thin, wan smile, but a smile.
I will go back. And they’ll all be there, before daybreak, coffee in one hand, and newspapers in the other.