The one thing I can count on

It’s 80 degrees Saturday morning.
I fly off the porch and start running down the road. I can hear my brother and cousin yelling at me in the distance.
“Wait for us”
“Don’t cross the street by yourself.”
I see Miss Dimple’s store on the corner.
I walk in and hear the usual “how you doing today sweetie?” as I’m going around in circles. I’m trying to find what I want.
There they are. The last two blow pops in the jar. I hand her the two nickels I’ve been clenching in my fist since I left the house. I run back out the door.
I race back up the road with the blow pops. As I get closer to the house, I see him. Sitting on the front porch. Almost like clockwork.
“Hey, Cousin Sacey!” To this day, I don’t know why he chose that for my nickname.
“Hey, Paw-Paw. Look what I got,” as I show him the blow pops in my pocket I unwrap one and give him the other. “I got you one, too.”
I sit down on the porch next to him. As we’re eating our candy, I look up at the wrinkles on his face.
“Paw-Paw, your face is all wrinkly.”
“That’s ‘cause I’m old.”
I laugh at him as we’re sitting on the porch watching the cars go by. That’s all we do all day. Sit on the porch and watch cars go by.
Sometimes he watches me play in the front yard. Sometimes we sit and talk. It doesn’t matter what’s going on. The one thing I can always count on whenever I go over there is that he’s always sitting on the front porch.
***
It’s like someone punched me in the stomach.
I can’t say anything as the words play over and over in my head. And I can’t get them to stop.
“Paw-Paw’s gone.”
***
We’ve just gotten back to Texas for his funeral.
For three days, people are coming to my grandmother’s house to see how we’re doing. All of them bring food as if eating will make everyone feel better.
I stay in my room most of the time. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I get tired of people asking stupid questions like, “How are you doing?” or “Are you okay, sweetie?” like it’s not obvious.
***
We get to the church. My mom’s in tears. My dad helps her out of the car and holds her the entire time as we make our way inside. I don’t say anything as we’re guided to our seats.
The ushers are making their way back up the aisle. I’m still quiet as they slowly move the flowers on the casket to the side.
Then it happens.
I’m trying to hold it in, but I can’t. When they open the casket for the final viewing, I just lose it.
I start bawling. The tears are pouring out of my face – and they won’t stop. I’m like that for the whole service.
By the time we get to the cemetery I’ve stopped crying. But I still feel terrible. I don’t wanna talk to anyone. I just want the whole day to be over.
I’m walking around when my mom comes up from behind me and gives me a hug. “Come on it’s time to go.”
***
Back at my grandmother’s house, I change my clothes and go into the living room. My mom’s telling a story.
“I remember when Daddy used to bring us home snacks every Friday when he worked at the gas station…”
I laugh to myself as I make my way to the kitchen.
I’m in the kitchen, and one of my mom’s friends is in there getting a drink. She can see I’ve been crying. She comes over to me and gives me a hug.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah I’m okay.”
She smiles at me and walks back into the living room. I smile to myself.
For the first time that whole week I actually am okay.