This was the first week in a long time that I felt functional in society. It was the first week where I didn't cry at all. It was the first week that I didn't pretend to be smiling when I was. It was going great until I started picking out the pictures of Grandma for this post. Dangit. Well, 6 of 7 days minus tears is pretty good.
I find myself feeling guilty for my feelings, for still feeling broken inside. There is a part of me that has been secretly grieving for some time. Most people in my life expect me to be over this death by now, but I am finding that it was harder than I ever could have planned for - which is why I made a point NOT to plan for it.
I almost called her the other day to tell her some good news. My phone was in my hand before I realized. We were each other's "default plans." Any time we didn't have anything to do, I'd call her and she'd say "I was just thinking I should call you guys!" We spent many days together, many meals together, many conversations. She was young for her age and I think I'm old for mine.
But, it's more than the loss of someone I love so much. It's the whole process of watching someone die, too. I was thinking about when Nick taught in L.A. and there was a shooting, all the kids would get mandatory counseling for the trauma they experienced, heard, felt, saw. Why is it when we know someone will die are we made to feel like it is less trauma? Like it still doesn't feel just as unexpected?
I still go back quite often and reread the post I wrote as I was watching Grandma die. (You can read it here. ) I don't take back anything that I said about the beauty and grace I saw in those days. The praise and forgiveness given in those times were some of the most wonderful moments of my life. It would have wounded me deeply to have not been there, to have been living in CA still and not have said goodbye in person. But, I didn't think those images of her struggling to breathe and crying out in pain would haunt the deepest places in my mind for so long. And those moments after she officially died, where life left instantly and she looked as if she'd been gone for days. For weeks I slept on the couch, slowly falling asleep to the sound of some movie or show, just so I could ignore the images and rememberances of my mind.
I ate dinner with Papa 2 weeks ago. We small talked and tried not to stare at the open chair at the table where she used to always be. I finally asked how he was and to my surprise, he really told me.
He told me about how painful the nights are when he goes to bed all alone after 50 years of having her by his side. He told me about how he's working himself into exhaustion trying to be not home in order to fall right asleep. He told me about how he finds himself talking to her at night-almost forgetting she is gone and how he still plays all her favorite songs on the piano, just like he did when she would sit and listen. He told me about the conversations they had in those last months and years where their love went to "new depths." It was moving and refreshing and it didn't take long before I couldn't hold it in any longer. Weeks of tears burst out and my pretending was done. It was embarassing and snotty and felt so good! I went on to have 3 more REAL conversations about Grandma the next day, with Brooke on the phone, Sam over email and with Nick on the couch--all 3 of them recovering from their own loss like this. After a full day of processing it all, I started to feel a little relief.
I always forget how talking is healing. Why do we hide our feelings and our brokeness from others so often? And how do we get so good at it?
I read on a website about grief that it usually takes a year to get over the death of someone you were close to. There are 365 days that you have to experience without them. There are birthdays and holidays and celebrations that have to be charged through with an empty seat in the room. And then the next year it's not as bad because you've already lived through that specific day without them.
And so, once again, I try and to pick up the pieces--some of the old ones and some new ones--to try and reassemble some sort of "normal" life where death isn't always on my mind. I think of all the life changing events I've gone through in my short adult life and know I wouldn't be standing without God's great grace. He can take some of the shittiest situations and turn them in to the most glorious masterpieces. Beauty from ashes. Grace from disaster. Life from death.