I’ve been wanting to write some tribute, ode, something in honor of my grandma for a few weeks, but couldn’t find the words once she actually died. The three weeks leading up? Shit, I had more to write than I have in months. It’s funny how some bigger-than-your-body experience can bring out all this “stuff” in you, for lack of a better word.
But then it happened, and I was there, and as much as I felt like it was an experience I wanted to write about, at the same time I wanted to keep it this private little thing that was mine.
The days of the viewings and funeral I couldn’t stand to be touched. Human contact was too much to handle.
I think part of this has to do with my longstanding battle with human emotion.
I am a good friend. I can say that confidently. Heck, I’m a nice person. My nickname is “Sweet Allie” from people who don’t even know one another. It’s an ongoing compliment that is very humbling.
But (if you’ve read this blog, or know me, you know this already) I am not the queen of relationships, or intimacy, or coping with emotions, or expressing emotions if you’re not family or friends.
But death doesn’t give two shits about that. It tip toes in, hangs out for a bit, and trips you with continual unexpected emotions. You were just trying to do laundry? Nah, you’re gonna cry now. Oh, you wanted to look through some old photo albums? Not your best idea. You’re hungry? Thirsty? Not hungry? Let’s just confuse you for a few days.
The shit sucks.
And I don’t want this to come off as ungrateful. I thank God every single day I only had to watch my Grandma be uncomfortable for two weeks. I cannot even imagine anyone who patiently aids to a loved one with a terminal illness. I feel blessed she was 88 and had a kickass life, and I am so happy I was there for the last few weeks. I can’t imagine not being there.
This is probably my most honest public piece of writing yet, and I was hoping it’d be therapeutic. Everyone has been so ridiculously nice this past month, and when I came back to Denver last week I was craving the mountains, getting back in a routine, feeling in control of something. I landed, drove to Trader Joe’s, bought all my favorite things (fresh plants/flowers, ground coffee, wine, green beans [if you haven’t tried them, TJ’s pre-bagged green beans are the best], good cheese, etc.), cleaned the apartment, opened windows, lit candles, and just was at home. Doing nothing. That first night back is a wash of maybe reading, internet browsing, texting, I don’t even know.
And somehow it’s now March 31st? Time becomes so precious when death shows up. Hours just sitting in the hospital, doing nothing but holding my Grandma’s hand, just flew by. Leaving? That fucking sucked. So I went back less than 72 hours later.
I told a friend during it all that I’d never known such a full body sadness. Or that you could love someone so much. Life got really really real.
This is so uncomfortably honest but I think it’s therapeutic a little. I haven’t cried in a week or so and tonight I finally unpacked my suitcase and this shit just hit me like a ton of bricks all over again.
The second I found out she was in the hospital, I just kept hearing one Death Cab lyric over and over, “Love is watching someone die.” I also immediately had this acceptance of it all though, too. That it was so selfish of me to want her on earth any longer than some higher power thought she should be here, or that she wanted to be here. And you know, she seemed so, so tired. Hell, after 88 years, 8 kids, 12 grandkids, and 9 great grandkids, I would too. And almost 27 years without the love of her life. I accepted early on that whatever she wanted to happen, would. But that didn’t make it all any easier.
In that week though, I also realized how magical my family is. We all love each other so freaking much. We’re big. And loud. And don’t always agree. And are very opinionated. And I think all had some fear that we wouldn’t all still be this strong, loving, powerful unit without the matriarch that caused us all to like one another so much. And leaving one another sucked. I love Denver more than I’ve probably loved anything else, but shit, I did not want to leave Pittsburgh.
I know this wasn’t the most eloquent thing I’ve ever posted. But it was probably the most honest. And sometimes, you’ve just gotta put you first, no matter what it is. Because taking care of everyone else gets draining. It’s the whole, “whatever’s good for the soul, do that” idea. And writing this was today’s coping mechanism.