Disclaimer: this post is random, disjointed and definitely not my best writing. But that is the way I feel grief is... random, disjointed and without great transitions between a normal moment and a moment where you feel yourself tearing up. I was having a hard time articulating everything I wanted to say, and honestly, I didn't even hit half of it... but here's my best shot so far:
As I made a pillow for Drew's room recently I kept thinking back to the hours I spent at Grandma's sewing machine (in their laundry room with the green shag carpet, why do we sometimes remember the smallest details?). Back then, when Kim and I went every Tuesday during the summer while Mom and Dad worked, I made pillows for my dolls. And when I shoddily do the reverse stitch now I think of how meticulously Grandma taught me to do it... I don't seem to have the skill she did...
For years whenever we had a family gathering I'd always ask if she had her special chocolate sauce (it was far better than anything the store sold) and she'd always whip it out of the freezer for me even if that wasn't on the dessert menu. It didn't matter if she was out of ice-cream I'd have it with cookies, brownies or quite honestly, I'd eat just a bowl of chocolate sauce.
At my bridal shower she was subdued. Within days from the June shower she had her diagnosis of liver cancer. Three days before AJ and I got married (July 10, 2009) she had her first chemotherapy treatment. She and Grandpa sat in the back of the chapel during the ceremony because she was too weak to walk in the processional.
I'd visit as her health declined rapidly, she stopped looking like the picture of health and wasn't able to talk or eat on her own because she became so weak. Dad called me on Thanksgiving morning, November 26, 2009, and suggested AJ and I go and say our goodbyes. She slept the whole time we were there except for this very brief moment when she opened her eyes and looked at us and Grandpa right before she died. I'm not sure tears ever stopped flowing while I was there.
I've never had someone close to me die, much less been in the room when it happened. I was in shock and had to call my Dad to tell him that Grandma died. I remember thinking it was such a role reversal when I called and told him that his mother had just died. As we waited for everyone, including the hospice nurse, to show up at the house, Grandpa spent some time in the room with Grandma by himself. He removed her wedding ring for the first time since they were married. I love that he still wears his.
The next day was my birthday and we didn't celebrate with any chocolate sauce. Instead I cried through most of my party.
When Dad told me about going to the funeral home to pick out the casket and make arrangements with Grandpa he mentioned that Grandpa paid for the funeral out of money he and Grandma saved for a trip out west. I think the hardest part for me about Grandma's death wasn't surprisingly, losing Grandma, even though that was awful, it was seeing Grandpa lose Grandma. My grief is obviously very different than his. Mine comes at random, and sometimes unexpected, moments and is triggered by something as little as chocolate sauce or a green shag carpet.
I was reading a quote by CS Lewis recently that said how the person left behind wants to love well even after the person they have loved has died. When I think of someone loving well I think of Grandpa, who is still loving her well.