Miraculously enough, I have only two hours worth of meetings scheduled today. So in amidst doing my weekly report and a project timeline breakdown for my manager, plus doing a couple of long-overdue web-based training programs (safety related, Management’s Priority of the Hour) and some process flows in Visio, it looks like I’ll be able to actually write something.
Because I’ve wanted to. Because there’s a lot of stuff going on. But that “lot of stuff” is preventing me from writing. It’s a vicious circle. But I have the time now, and many subjects to choose from.
So, there is Grandma. Last Sunday (the 2nd) was her birthday, and I got the traditional phone call from my sister. We always make a point to call one another on Grandma’s birthday, and on the anniversary of her death. These little traditions are bringing me comfort – it’s good to know that she’s on the forefront of someone else’s mind, too, and that someone else shares my feelings. I miss her deeply, every single day.
Last Sunday was particularly bad, though. My feelings were exacerbated by the fact that I’d just finished reading “The Lovely Bones” – not exactly cheery stuff. For those of you who haven’t read it (and it seems like practically everybody on Earth has), the main character is a little girl who was murdered, and the book is written from her point of view, after she’s dead. She is the silent observer of the individuals of her family’s lives (plus her friends, and the man who murdered her), and is an unseen (mostly) presence as they all try to cope with and get beyond the fact of her death.
Predictably, I got to wondering if Grandma’s presence was all around me, too. In a more literal fashion than my vague and undefined feeling that she’s “somewhere”, and still herself. Does she sometimes stand at my shoulder? Has she ever “yelled” as loud as she could, trying to get through my senses, ever blunted to the elusive sixth? Is she the one who reminds me to fasten my seatbelt as, a few minutes down the road, a sudden an unexpected vision of crunching metal and shattered glass flashes through my mind and prompts me to buckle up?
Does she miss me? Is there such thing as “missing” in heaven? Or, unlike the character of the book, is she content with her place in the circle of life and death, having not been pulled away from it in an “untimely” way? Is she biding her time in her version of heaven, reuniting with her mom and dad, nine brothers and sisters that went before her, her husband, my mom, and Tod the cat?
I’d be willing to bet that my grandmother’s heaven is a lobster cookout with corn on the cob and potato salad, in the back yard of her house, with all of her loved ones crowded together in the screen house. No, wait. That’s my heaven. But considering how much she loved it, it could be her heaven too.
Wow. I just made myself really homesick.
At any rate. I was this melancholy thing, and Calvin was just getting on me for allowing myself to get into my “Grandma Mood”. This term was new to me – I responded, “I have a ‘Grandma Mood’?”, and was interested in what his perspective was, when my sister called and circumvented the conversation. We talked about Grandma. We talked about her kids. We talked about the mountains of snow getting dumped upon Maine. We talked about my upcoming visit. And when we hung up, I was still thoughtful, but feeling better.
Calvin’s “Grandma Mood” statement stayed with me, though we didn’t get the opportunity to talk about it. I do understand what he means, and I even understand why it exasperates him. See, when I’m in my “Grandma Mood”, I’m in this unreachable, unfixable place that he can only observe and not effect. I’m blue, and quiet, and prone to get the tear-welling thing going on, prompted by strange causes. Sometimes I know that what I’m doing, reading, or watching (or eating, or listening to, or thinking about, or dreaming of, or looking at, or…) will put me in that melancholy mood, and he can’t figure out why I wouldn’t just avoid those things to prevent the mood altogether.
I could tell him, “Because I’m not afraid to grieve,” but I’m not sure he’d understand that – grief is a bad thing, so wouldn’t you want to avoid it? I don’t want to avoid those things, that mood, or my grief. It’s part and parcel with everything that has to do with Grandma, now. To avoid grief I would have to avoid everything that brings Grandma to mind. To avoid everything that brings Grandma to mind is to avoid Grandma, and everything she means to me.
I’m not afraid of the sadness I feel when I think of Grammy. I’m not afraid to miss her, and I’m not afraid to remind myself of her. I’m even not afraid of being reminded that she’s gone. Closing my eyes right now and really trying to describe how I feel, it’s like the grief is warm, a ball in my stomach, but not tight or hard. More like it’s glowing, with tendrils that occasionally sweep out to strike at the nerves of me, climbing up from my stomach to my chest and heart. The grief sharpens until it distracts me and makes me focus on it and pay attention to it. It’s let out in tears, then settles and diffuses into warmth again – a living part of me that I don’t try to manage or change, I just let it be. Always in the background, until it makes itself a stronger presence.
That’s as close as I can come to it.
The Grandma of before was the presence of a person I could hug, whose voice I could hear, whose smile I could see, whose love I could count on. Well, I just figure that now her hug is inside me, her voice is in my mind, her smile is the same one that I see in the mirror, and her love is unchanged. She’s still here, she’s just manifested in a different way.
Is she all around me, or am I all around her? There is no difference, that I can tell.