I have been sharing personal essays on my journey with autism with my children, on mom life, grief and mental health. Most essays are from life in 2017 and 2018. WARNING: my essays contain cursing. Click on the Essays category to read previous ones.
My Gram went to heaven yesterday. God, you finally have her to spoil. My heart is broken. The grief feels like I’m being tossed around by the ocean. Today is the first day in my entire life I don’t have my grandmother and I will miss her more than I can imagine. This morning I went for a walk after getting the girls all off to school and I breathed in the cold winter air. I just so happened to bump into our pediatrician while I was walking and I asked him about involving the girls in the whole process of the wake and funeral. He said let them be a part of all of it. Let them see life. It’s all something we go through and it’s OK to show them. I don’t know about the open casket though, I may have them miss that part. I want their memories of Gram to be us hanging out with her in her apartment, when she was chubby and smiling. It was no coincidence I saw our pediatrician this morning, thank you God for that moment.
A few of us went to the funeral home earlier and picked out the casket, prayer cards and where and when everything will take place. Can’t believe how expensive it is to die. It doesn’t feel real right now and I’m guessing it might not for a while. I feel like I’m floating around, not in the here and now, not thinking clearly, like in a daze, like I’m drunk. Even though I knew she was dying it’s still an unreal feeling, almost like I was holding on to some hope she would pull through.
I had been in Gram’s room most of yesterday and had to leave to get the girls off their busses. My sister, mom, Gram’s sister and niece were all there. Shortly after I left my sister called me crying, Gram stopped breathing. I had just missed it and she actually apologized for me not being there. I didn’t want to be there and Gram knew that. It took Audrey a while to get my mom to leave Gram’s room. My uncle came and was able to get my mom to leave and Audrey brought her to my house and my brother met up with us too. We sat around the kitchen table and laughed and cried, talked about memories and looked at pictures. I’m worried how my mom will handle this, taking care of Gram has been Mom’s life for the last couple of years. God please let us all come together to celebrate Gram’s life and give us peace knowing she is with you.
I went back to work today after taking a month off and I’m not sure my heart is still in it, but I have to keep busy and get back to some semblance of a routine. I had Olive home sick a couple of days last week, in the heart of planning Gram’s wake and funeral. She woke up two mornings in a row and threw up. She got her period the first day home and it reminded me that the last few months she has thrown up the day she got her period. Puking with your period, is that a thing?! I never heard of it. Holy shit. Olive isn’t quite at the maturity level to stay home alone and who wants to be home alone when throwing up anyway, we all need Mom to hold back our hair. But if I have to take a day or two off of work every month for this, oh my God, how do I hold down a job? The poor kid, trying to deal with all this and stressing about the school work she misses. Olive and Laurel are both rule followers, they never miss a homework assignment or act up, never get in trouble or won’t even associate with the kids who get yelled at. Olive had a homework pass all of fifth grade and never used it because she couldn’t fathom not turning in her homework every time. God love them.
The wake for Gram was open casket and it didn’t look like her. I’m saying it like it wasn’t her, wasn’t a life, not what I mean, just that her body didn’t seem like hers anymore. Her soul was no longer occupying that vessel of life and I could tell. Many people came to say good bye and pay their respects to all of us. Gram had nine children, 29 grandchildren, 51 great grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren; for her obituary we had to sit down and count because we never really did before. What a legacy. Needless to say there were a lot of people celebrating Gram’s life. My sister, cousin and I did the eulogy at the church. We laughed, cried and told our favorite stories. I talked about my visit with her last fall, when she told me about mixing in the good times to outweigh the bad. I couldn’t keep it together through it.
The last time I touched Gram’s hand at the wake I sobbed harder than I ever have. It was like crazy, can’t catch my breath sobs. I sunk my head into my mother’s shoulder and didn’t move. Again, I’m falling back on my childhood comforts. Crying into Mommy’s arms was the only thing I could think of doing in that moment. I’ll never touch Gram again, hear her singing, watch her laugh with my daughters. I’m shaking as I write this. My Gram. I couldn’t focus at work today and as soon as all the preschoolers left I booked it out of there, grabbed a coffee, and drove down to the cemetery. I just sat there and cried. I’ll miss our talks sitting at her kitchen table with our coffee. Gram made the best coffee. She taught me her secret but I could never replicate. I’m not ready to stop our chats Gram and may end up at the cemetery often until I can get a grip.
Thank you Gram for our big crazy family. You did that. You lived a life of love and cheer. I’m thankful for the time we had together and I’ll love you forever.