Good Mourning


A week ago yesterday, my grandpa died. The Saturday before that, he was rushed to the hospital and we were told that he wouldn’t be leaving. Since I hadn’t seen him in 3 years (I live in a different province) and I had tried to go visit earlier this year, as soon as I heard, I pushed for us to go on a road trip ASAP to see him one last time. The next morning, we drove 12 grueling hours and went straight to the hospital when we finally got into town. We kind of thought the doctor was exaggerating about the seriousness of his condition, because my Opa was just as I knew him: joking, smiling, hugging, kissing, and talking in a pitch that got higher and higher the more excited he got. The next day, he didn’t seem as happy, his breathing was a bit more laboured, and he was very insistent on having my Oma close enough so he could touch her hand. But otherwise he was still okay, and it seemed like maybe he’d make it into palliative care. Since we had already planned to go back home the next morning, as soon as he finished his supper and we started to gather our things to let him sleep, I suddenly panicked. This would be last time I would see him alive. He hugged and kissed me bye and said ‘Thank you’, one of the few English phrases he could still say (he lost most of his English with a stroke 9 years ago). I didn’t know what to say back, knowing it would be last thing I said to him, so I said ‘Thank you‘, trying to say it in a joking manner. When he replied with ‘Morgen?’, asking in German whether we’d be visiting the next day, I couldn’t say anything back, and left it for my aunt to explain we were driving back home. We all left without looking at each other, all of us holding it in until we got out of the room so as not to upset Opa, but I at least wasn’t successful any farther than that. The next morning we left, barely talking on the ride home. That night, I had a dream my Opa died. The day after, in his sleep, he did.

When I packed for that trip, I packed something to wear for a funeral in the event that it happened when we were there. It was only semi-funeral appropriate, but at the point I didn’t care, and didn’t think anyone else would care. Since there were a few days between coming home and having to return to BC for the funeral though, I suddenly did care what I would wear for the last time I’d be in the same room as my Opa. Having worn jeans and an emo band t-shirt the last time I saw him alive, I wanted to look pretty for him, stupid as that might sound. But do you have any idea how hard it is to shop for something specifically for a funeral? It sucks. I hate shopping in stores and malls at the best of times, and I barely made it through that afternoon. The question that keeps running through my emotionally exhausted head now is: do I ever wear that dress again? It’s really pretty and fits me perfectly, but I always associate my clothes with when/why I bought them and the events I wore them to. So what do I do with it now?

Anyway, I wanted to illustrate this post not with pictures of my Opa (because I’d cry everytime I blog) or with the dress (because I don’t know how I feel about it), but with some pieces from Paris-based Belgian designer Pablo Henrard. I saw a womenswear collection of his entitled ‘Good Mourning’ the day after I got back from the funeral, a collection about a woman in grief. And while the inspiration for that collection was completely relevant to me, I’ve posted a couple pieces from his menswear collection entitled ‘Maelström’ here. Not just because I like it with my androgynous styling sensibilities, but because I’ve realized how many of my traits come directly from my Opa. It’s funny how we tend to only think of clothing and looks as androgynous, when personality and familial quirks are as well. I wouldn’t be me if it wasn’t for my Opa, and I’m so glad I got to see him one last time, smiling. Opa, thank you.

(Photos via NJAL)