I was about 6 years old. I came back from school
someday, and from the entrance I saw my mother
in the living-room, hiding her face in her hands. I went to her, asking something like "hey, mum, you're alright ?" She yell
ed at me like never before. She was crying. I had never thought my parents could cry
My father was in the kitchen. He came to me (I was a little bit shocked), and he began talking to me about my grandfather
"You remember that your grandpa was very sick, don't you ?
- Uh, yeah..." (sometimes, when we were at my grandparents' house, a nurse would come for my grandfather, with a medical box and several syringes - when I asked why, I was told that my grandfather was "very sick")
"Well, your grandfather grew so sick, that now he's gone to sky."
I laughed. I was already a very pragmatic, scientifically-thinking
kid, and the idea that someone could "go to sky" seemed downright ridiculous to me.
But my father didn't like that. He clutched my arm quite roughly and told me with a stern
"You don't laugh about that. Your mother's very sad now. Never laugh about these things. You get it ?"
I didn't get anything, but I was very impressed, so I mumbled "yeah, yeah". My father let me go. I don't remember how the rest of the day was spent.
I hadn't understood the meaning of all this. I hadn't realized that my grandfather was really gone, that I would never see him any more. This took some time. I remember that a few months after that, I told my grandmother how Grandpa had "taken me to school this morning". My grandmother looked at me, smiled (only now do I realize how painful
this smile was) and said "oh, no, he didn't". "What, yes he did !" I replied, almost bluntly
. I really believed it. The night before I had dreamt that my father had taken me to school, and I still did not make a clear distinction between dreams and real life
(remember, I was six).
My understanding of death
was a gradual, progressive process. I can't remember of a precise day/minute/instant when I suddenly realized that I wouldn't see my grandfather any more. I only remember that by the age of 10, I was perfectly aware of it. It somehow made its way into my mind, in a quiet, peaceful way. No pathos
, no tragedy
, no tears and sighs. My first experience with a bike
was much more painful than my first experience with death.
I suppose it's a good thing