Saturday, February 14, 2009

Everything rides on hope, now

I have been wanting to write. I have been needing to write, as well. I have a lot to say and find this to be my "free therapy" without the awkward silences. But, my heart has been so heavy and full of so many things that I've been finding the idea of facing it all quite painful.

Grandma's funeral was 4 weeks ago , I think. Seems like a million years ago, but in the same muffled breathe, only moments have passed. I miss her terribly. I almost called her on my way home from the doctor last week to tell her the new news about Ella's seemingly never-ending health problems. But, before I pressed "send", I remembered. And this morning, as I called to ask my Grandpa, whom we all call "Papa," over for dinner, I just couldn't hang up and listened to her voice on the message.

And right now, as I sit at my cluttered desk, with pictures and papers and lots of "to-do later" types of things, I am looking at her car out of my window. Technically it is my car now, but it is still her car and I want her driving it, not me.

When I went to retrieve the keys to my newly bequeathed car, it was the first time I was in her house since the mass exodus of family members the week after she died. I'd seen Papa a few times, but it was always at an alternate location. His note had said that the keys were on the counter. They were there. They were her keys on her key chain. Her wallet and purse sat just across the way, just like she wasn't gone at all. Her house smelled the way it always had, but it felt different because she wasn't in it.

My Dad and I had a good talk on the way home from the hospital one night. It was one of those chats where you can't look at the other person out of fear of hysterical, loud, snotty sobs on impact. He said that we are supposed to learn about death from our Grandparents, it's the circle of life, basically, in a lot less "Lion Kingy" type of way. And in a lot of ways, there is so much truth to that.

But my life was different. I grew up knowing my grandparents intimately, as they helped raise me. I grew up seeing them weekly, if not daily. I know stories of their lives and their siblings and the high schools they went to in Utah. My experience with my grandparents was more equivalent to that of parents. How lucky am I to have so many people that loved me.

When we were back at the hospital all those weeks ago, we were just sitting around waiting for her to die. It sounds morbid and terrible, I know, but it was reality at that point. It was what I was praying for, to be honest. To be set free from pain and medications and have a new body and peace overflowing; it was time for her to go. I thought I had processed through all that had happened to that point, until my Aunt Kathy reminded me of something I had forgotten. She said that this must be extra hard for me because I'm not losing my Grandma, I'm losing my "Bama Sharon," which was my name for her for the years my Mom and I lived with her. Years that I didn't remember or realize mattered until I heard the name my 2-year old mouth could only say.

I believe that loss is processed on many different levels. I first learned that when my high school/college boyfriend and I split up, for the last time. He was an ass, for sure, but still I had to grieve the death of that relationship many times, on many different days.

And in a much more tragic and heartbreaking way, I am seeing the different levels that are showing up these days and trying to appropriately acknowledge them. Like Valentines Day. My Grandma celebrated every holiday with her favorite medicine: all things sweet. And without fail, every year I received a sugar-filled package of goodies and a card stuffed with money. In the married years, Grandma would give Nick and I $50 to go out to dinner. I loved that she cared about our marriage enough to do that and throw in some free babysitting. Anyway, this Valentine's Day felt a little lonelier, a little less sweet.

And Ella's 2nd birthday, which was celebrated at her house yesterday, we ate a meal she would have made (not as tasty, but edible) and I even sat where she sat, but she was not there. That day last year she made spaghetti and laughed and hugged her grand children. I missed her at Ella's party. I could smell her and hear her laugh, but she wasn't there.

Owen is asking about her less and less. He's not worried anymore because this summer he is going to build a flying car and go get her. Jesus should have fixed her by then, he says, and we'll just bring her home. My heart bleeds tears when he says those words. There is nothing to be said. I can't help but hold him and cry.

We spent the last week on the beach in the Bahamas. Owen became an excellent collector of shells while we were there. On the day we arrived home my Mom came over to welcome us back to the land of ice and snow. Owen gave my Mom all the shells we had collected and told her she needed all of them. They were magic shells, apparently, and to have them meant that you could not die. And so my Owen, was trying to prevent the loss of another Grandma.

I love children and the raw hope that is just a part of their being. I hope he never loses that hope. I hope that on our worst days, Owen's sweet stories of flying cars and magical shells will be enough to bring us smiles and laughter for the next moment.