I’m looking forward to a rock and roll show. Five Iron Frenzy played their very last show at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, Colorado, more than eight years ago and the worst day of my life was hurtling toward me.
When I pulled into the drive out front, I noticed that grass had nearly finished overtaking the gravel that marked where cars were meant to park. I sat in the car for a long time because I didn’t know how to move.
I swang the gate open and walked up the sidewalk and onto the porch to a front door I didn’t know how to address. I felt I had abdicated the right to simply open the door and walk inside. But ringing the doorbell of my grandparents’ house didn’t seem like a more sane option. Luckily, I didn’t have to decide. He called out, “Come in, Jamie,” with all the strength and joy the brace on his neck would allow him to express.
I wonder if he chose to use my name deliberately to discretely signal what was happening to my grandma; she thought he was hallucinating or having some sort of aphasia. She was sitting at the table in the dining room picking through the beans for Monday. We always had beans on Mondays.
I sat next to him for a while and the seconds ticked excruciatingly off the clock, both too slow and way too fucking fast. I don’t remember what we talked about. Since it was Novemeber, we probably talked about how school was going. I probably told him about the trip to Denver, how it snowed while we were there. Since it was Sunday, we probably talked about football. Maybe we talked about how Thanksgiving was coming up and how I’d try to make it back to watch the Packers play the Lions. We liked the Packers and my grandma liked the Lions.
When I finally had to get back in the truck and leave, the pain I had been poorly hiding boiled over. I drove to the end of the street and stopped at the stop sign. I screamed in the silence so hard and loud that I could no longer hear myself. I punished my steering wheel for the injustice and for my own selfish stubbornness. I screamed at God and begged for time. At least Christmas.
My granddad, my hero, died on December 4 and I said the hardest goodbye I’ve ever known four days later.
Some time in 2012, somewhere in Denver, Colorado, Five Iron Frenzy will play their very first show in more than eight years, and I’ll be there. I don’t know what the days after that show will be like, but I know they can’t be as hard.
I’m looking forward to that rock and roll show.