Lindsey took a breath, holding it in, as her grandfather’s chest stilled, her wondering if this was the moment.
But it wasn’t. The heart monitor continued on, as did her grandfather, and her lungs gave way to his shallow breathing, and taking one last squeeze of his hand she then got up, and moved to the window. Looking out, she could see the skyline of the lake, and a massive ore ship slowly making its way into the bay, belching waves from its mammoth girth. She had a memory of when her grandfather took her to the lift bridge one summer, and when she had dropped her ice cream carelessly over the side, he had given her his, with a smile. She had no memories of her grandfather not being cheerful; he had always been a balanced man with a good sense of joy and a ripe, witty humor about him. Even now, in the bed, with the tubes protruding from his nostrils and the thin vines of IV drips and wires hanging from his left arm, he seemed calm and content. His dry lips arced into a soft, soft smile.
She wondered about him, in ways she had never wondered about him before. Who was his first crush? His first kiss? Did he ever steal from a general store or tell off his mother, or disobey his father? When did he discover he wanted to be an engineer, or when was it that he nailed his first job—what was his first job?—and was his first boss a hard-ass or a breeze. Did he ever get into a fist fight? Did he ever regret breaking a heart, or allowing his to be broken? She never knew the names of his childhood friends, or his childhood pets, or the ingredients of his fears. What was her grandfather afraid of? Was he afraid of being in this bed right now?
Once again she was at his bedside, holding his hand, looking into his lidded eyes, as if he were napping on the couch or on a towel at the beach.
“Who are you, grandpa?” she asked, quietly, having this daydream that he would suddenly open his eyes, and respond. She could see it.
“What? What kinda question is that. I’m your grandfather, kiddo!”
And there she was in his arms again, him swinging her around wildly as she laughed, before he brought her in for a kiss, his lips pushing so firmly onto her eyebrow as he chuckled.
“I love you, kid.” he said.
She squeezed her grandfather’s hand tighter, her eyes welling. “I love you too, grandpa.” she whispered, and she bent down, and kissed his head.
There, asleep, she could see him smiling.