Dealing with Death
I've now lost all my grandparents. My paternal grandfather when I was very young, and I have very few memories of him. My paternal grandmother after many many years in a nursing home. She taught me to love kittens and life on the farm. My maternal grandmother after a long fight with alzhiemers disease. She taught me to be an artist to love to paint to create. I remember visiting her, and she hadn't been recognizing anyone for a while. She often sat quietly and was afraid of strangers. Everyone warned me.
I sat down next to her with my breakfast and didn't stare at her. Just smiled and buttered my toast. She struggled to butter her toast, so I smiled at her and offered to help. She let me help. She watched me for a long time and finally reached over and held my hand. It was so lovely. I knew she knew me, and yet she didn't.
Some years later I lost my mom after a three year battle with cancer. Appointment after appointment and injection after injection. I went with her. Loved her. Supported her . . . and finally watched her die. I lost my mom and my best friend in one moment. She taught me to love, cook and bake, and my love of reading.
Then I lost my maternal grandfather in the spring from a good case of being old. He was so smart and kind and funny. He gave me my love of rocks, Native American Indian culture, and fossils.
Oh how I miss them all. It is like watching your lineage fade to dust before your very eyes. I find myself often staring at nothing and eating things I don't really remember eating.
I'd love to blame the dogs for eating all the ice-cream, but alas it was me.
There is something so haunting about watching those you love leave you behind. Where do I belong, if not with them? I somewhat cling to places, like grandma and grandpa's farm, watching that go—knowing I can never go back—that it will never be the same . . . that hurts. Sometimes I miss my mom's restaurant, the smells, the sounds, the people . . . and knowing exactly where she'd be. Sometimes I cling to objects, grandma's paintings, grandpa's rocks, mom's chickens . . . clinging to trinkets missing them.
Sometimes I find my self staring at things imagining them off doing the things they all used to when I was young. Grandma J.'s making jelly. Grandpa J.'s farming. Grandma S. has a new batch of kittens to hug. Mom is crocheting some hand warmers. That's when the food disappears, when I'm lost imagining them all healthy and well. Imagining my family tree still intact.
But I always awaken from my imaginary world and realize in the stillness of the morning that I am alone.
I smile at my memories, wipe my tears and stand up. The day is awaiting, my son needs to be tickled awake with kisses, my dogs need to run and eat, my cat needs a good cuddle and food, and breakfast must be made. And I am not alone. All of my loved ones live on inside of me and my son. I see my mom in his smile. They never left us, they gave us their all, they hide themselves inside of us. Like the leaves of a tree, ever changing, but always connected to life. Even when the tree finally has given all it has to give, it still drops the seeds of life.