My Grandmother passed away Tuesday in the early-early morning. My dad called me around 3am (my time) to tell me. When I spoke to him Wednesday afternoon, just to check in, he couldn’t remember if he had called me or not. He admitted to feeling “scattered.” No kidding. It’s devastating, even if you know it’s on its way. Comparison is mean in times like these (I’m sorry, Dad), but I remember experiencing that, “Which way is up?” feeling for weeks after my mom passed. And I still had my dad. That feeling reared its ugly head several more times, here-and-there. It has been a long time since I felt it. That bizarre emptiness, however, has never gone away.
Grandma was my last living biological grandparent. I’m lucky – I still have my step-grandparents. I’m grateful to have a relationship with them.
I think funerals bring out the bad in many families. Maybe they bring up all those things that people normally pretend don’t exist. Something about the emotional stress of a death in the family and the funeral bring up all this bottom-dwelling stuff that, on any other day, isn’t real. I have been curious about human behavior for as long as I can remember. I’ve formally studied it since late high school. I work in it. It is the great mystery. Why do people do this instead of that? Why did that person do that specific thing? My brain never gives up. I think there is a higher prevalence of Why? because I’m an introvert, and, of course, I think my way of handling things is the best way (Note: not always true).
Earlier today I became very upset. I wrote a letter that I intended to send to some relatives via FaceBook messenger. Even when I sat down with my lappy toppy, I was still set on sending the letter. When it was time, I changed my mind. Maybe this is not the way to do it? Maybe this is somehow inappropriate? I just need to get some messages across to them. I just need them to know some things, and I need those things to come from me. I have this desperate need to encourage people to talk to me if they have questions or concerns about me. I definitely do not want people to get their information from someone with whom I don’t communicate.
I opted to post the letter here. Come one, come all. Maybe nobody will read it. Maybe everyone will. Note: I wrote this while sitting at my desk at work this morning (07/21/2017).
I want to apologize for not attending Gram’s services. I have kept everyone in my thoughts, and I thoroughly researched my options for making the trip happen. Without getting into specifics, I feel comfortable openly admitting that I was not able to afford to make the trip. I also want to let everyone know that I did not ask anyone else to pay for the trip for me or to help me pay for it. None of this came from a place of disrespect for Gram or anyone else. The money wasn’t there, and I hate asking others for money.
I regret that I could not be there for Gram’s funeral. I feel that I should have been there, at least as a support for my dad and everyone else who is deeply effected by this loss. I don’t think the death of a loved one is ever easy. There is no such thing as, “being ready.” I don’t know if anyone else has said it, but this sucks. I know many of you have been thinking that.
Right now in Texas, it’s 10:38am. Gram’s funeral is scheduled to begin at 12:00pm “my time.” It was nearly midnight “my time” last night when it occurred to me that I could send flowers for the funeral. You will find that I didn’t, even when the idea finally came to me. I looked at arrangements online and generally stressed myself out about making a choice. Then I didn’t choose. They were kind of boring and not one of them reminded me of Gram.
I want this letter to serve as an apology for not attending Gram’s services and for not being there during this difficult time. I am remembering Gram here: the blue hood she made for me when I was little-little (maybe 4-5 years old); her singing; her Macaroni & Cheese (still my favorite); her poems she shared with me while I was in high school and my denim blanket. If you didn’t love your denim blanket, you are a liar; if you never received one, you are missing out.
That’s really it. I didn’t “sign” it. I didn’t go into any background. It doesn’t seem like much, and I did attempt to write more, but it was too far off track. Too much needless reality.
Since my grandma’s passing, I’ve spoken with 3 different relatives who are there (who have been there). That’s 3 different stories. I kid you not. Three different stories about what’s happening in a rural county in Ohio. I feel angry and confused. Two weeks ago, I would’ve picked up the phone, called a reliable someone and said, “Here’s what I’m hearing. What is really happening?” I don’t feel like I have that option today. Another side effect of emotional stress related to a death in the family is that nobody is reliable right now.
This week has been something of a highlight reel of why I moved 2K miles away from that rural county in Ohio. I can more easily flex my logic muscle here. I can try to fit the pieces together in my mind without someone in my ear with their own agenda, because I can leave my phone in a different room. I can even turn off my phone. I can process text messages over time. I can disconnect more easily from emotions because there aren’t facial expressions. In text messages, there isn’t even a tone of voice or the sound of post-cry sniffling or exasperated sighing. It seems like panning for gold – I can sift out the nonsense. I will tell you, the pan is frequently empty. Texas has been nothing short of a blessing for me. I need all this distance. I need 2,000 miles to be authentic and to coexist authentically.
Eventually the dust will settle. Eventually there will be a reliable somebody. Eventually, I will go visit. I will get to look at faces and look into eyes when I ask, What is really happening here?