Grief and ramblings

I’ve sat down many a day and mulled over what to write. I feel a sense of writer’s block and nothing seems to flow as it usually does. I’ve been out of sorts the past few weeks. Death will do that to you. It brings on a flurry of emotions, and I’ll be honest in saying that I usually prefer to keep the physical part of grief to myself. That being said, sometimes when you don’t know what to write, you just have to start someplace, be honest, and see where the old brain takes you.

I realized the other day how grief when you’re a parent is a different ballgame. At least for me it is. I have so many responsibilities that there simply isn’t time for me to have a meltdown, or a big deep cry. I’ve also become fairly distrusting of people’s motivations over the past few years and prefer not to let people see me sad. I don’t need to give people fodder for gossip. I think it’s important for my kids to see my grieve, but sometimes when I am in the thick of it, I know that my tears will bring questions, and sometimes I’m not always ready for those questions. Sometimes I need to just process my own feelings before I am ready to handle my feelings with everyone else’s feelings layered on top, if that makes sense.

The day my grandfather died was a weird mix of emotions. The usual grief of losing someone was there. The grief of losing my last grandparent, and knowing that it was sort of an end to an era. The knowledge that with his death would eventually mean the sale of his house, which made me sad too, since I had a lifetime of memories within those walls. I felt sadness for my dad too. He lost my mom and now both of his parents. There was some relief on his behalf, as I know he wouldn’t have appreciated how that last month went for him. Death often feels rather undignified, and my grandfather was a very dignified person. It was a veritable onion of emotions, and I wasn’t quite ready to start peeling the layers. I knew I wanted to go to the funeral, so I allowed myself an hour or so to try to get composed and set off to work, since I didn’t have much vacation time left. I arrived, started to cry, caught myself, and headed home. I stayed pretty stoic and held it together quite well through telling the kids, and navigating arrangements.

Each time I started to get upset, I’d rein it in. I had a job to do, kids to look after, a husband. I had friends going through their own troubles. And through all of it, I held it together. Life is just to busy and I have too many people to be responsible for than to fall apart.

I started to crack when the hearse pulled up outside my grandfather’s house. I pulled it together quickly. I decided I would try to grab a few moments with his casket after the church service. I made it through the service quite well. I held it together even when I learned I wouldn’t get the chance to have a few moments alone with my grandfather to say goodbye due to a lack of communication on my behalf with the FD. I held it together at the gathering after. I allowed myself a quick few minutes to cry when I stepped out of his house for the very last time.

There really hasn’t been any proper grief that I’ve allowed myself.

I remember that when my mom died, I went into a type of shock and into survival mode. I was a new mom, with a new husband, a new home, and I went back to work. My world crashed down and I had to stay strong to keep everyone else ok, and keep myself above water. I allowed myself just a few minutes to privately grieve here and there. I managed. That being said, I felt like the grieving process dragged out for ages, where perhaps if I had allowed myself to really feel it in it’s entirety up front, I’d have processed it better.

I need to have a good, old fashioned, soul cleansing, ugly, red faced, boo hoo sobbing cry.

Sometimes a good old cry can work wonders.

On the brighter side, my trip had some really lovely moments. I spent time with family. I learned that certain people in my family will always show for me, and I felt really loved. I stayed with my cousin and the two of us had loads of laughs. I got to hold baby puppies and pet older dogs. (If you’re having a bad day, go look at some baby German Shepherds and listen to them grunt, it’s adorable and will brighten you right up.) I got to see and bring home my great grandparents’ marriage license, as well as numerous other pictures and documents. I brought home a suitcase from WW2 that belonged to a little Jewish boy my great grandparents took in during the war. I learned to cook some new dishes. I walked outside in the freshest of country air. I had people come up to tell me they went to school with my mom, and how amazing they always thought she was. I had folks come up to tell me what a fantastic person my dad is. I worked on our family tree. I got to call my husband and kids and hear that they were doing ok, but that I was missed a lot. I got to meet family at the pubs for pints of well poured Guinness and old stories. I got to go to my mom’s grave, and catch out of the corner of my eye a beautiful sunflower growing out of the top of a building, making me feel comforted and happy. I had late night chats and hot cups of perfectly brewed tea to combat the chill.

In other words, I felt at home, surrounded by family who have known me my whole life and love me, plus I found a lot of happy, joy filled moments during a sad time.

Having family on two continents means that my heart is always split between the two. I always feel like something is slightly missing, but also feel that regardless of which place I land in, I am at home. I feel at home walking the streets of my town here in the US, but also feel perfectly at home walking the fields of a village 3000+ miles away.

In summation, my grandfather, who had admittedly and vocally grown rather tired of this life, has passed. Perhaps he is back with my grandmother, perhaps death is all there is. Regardless, he is not suffering, and for that I am thankful. A trip caused by a sad loss was also filled with joy and laughter, because life is always a balance of the two. If we do not experience sadness, how do we truly appreciate joy? And lastly, I need a good cry once in a while. Grieve the loss, but celebrate the life.

Finding a sliver of the past

Today a news article caught my eye about an arrest made locally. The police raided a house and found bombs, guns, ammunition and the like, The ages of the person was the same as mine, and the name sounded familiar, so I went to look for my old high school yearbook to see if he was in fact a classmate of mine back in high school. I found him in there, his picture next to a picture of one of my high school friends. What I also found in the yearbook, was several papers, pictures and cards. I must have slipped them in there within the past 6 years or so in order to keep them flat and safe until I could find a better place for them. (story of my life..things put somewhere “safe” only to get lost for years until they turn up again.). As soon as I saw my newfound treasure, I beamed with happiness,

Tucked inside my yearbook, was a small treasure of cards, letters and pictures of loved ones and people I had never met. One of the items that made me smile from ear to ear and then get a bit nostalgic, was a card from my mother. On the front is a child and a cat, looking up at the moon. Inside, it says “how I wonder what you are” in type. My mother, in her careful writing, in red pen, had written “have a wonderful holiday. As you can see I have saved up a little money for you. Sorry it isn’t more. Extra $3.00 for a drink on the flight”. The $3 comment shows it was quite a long time ago she gave me the card, because drinks on planes costs quite a bit more these days I believe. I’m not sure what trip this card was for. I don’t remember how much she gave me, or the picture on the card. What I do remember, is being on a plane, opening up this card, and the feeling it gave me, I remember the warmth, love, and feeling so, so loved when I opened this card. I remember feeling guilty she had saved up money to give me some extra spending money so I could enjoy myself. I felt…..mothered, and it was the best feeling ever. I lost my mother to cancer almost 8 years ago. I’ve mentioned it and alluded to it in the blog, and I’ve said I’d write more about it, but haven’t been able to bring myself to. I probably will soon. I lost my mother the same year I got married (she was too sick to make it to the JOP wedding we had in hopes she could see me get married. ). I lost my mother right after I moved into my house, and most importantly, right after I had my son.

At a time when new mothers call their mom’s for advice, soothing, or babysitting, I couldn’t call my mom. When I battled postpartum depression quietly, and felt more alone than ever, I couldn’t reach out to her. When I needed her more than ever, I didn’t have her. I was angry, I was depressed, and I was heartbroken. I don’t care how old you are, if you have a decent relationship with your parents, you always need them in some way, I wanted and needed my mom more than anything, and she was taken from me. I had a wave of the exact same feeling the day I had my daughter. When my hospital room was empty, and the visitors had left, I would cry big fat sobs that my mother was missing out on what would have been such a joyous, proud day for her, and for me. I cried for all the times i knew i would have questions about how to raise a little girl, knowing i couldn’t ask her. I cried for all the stories of my childhood that only she knew. I cried that she would never hold my daughter or son. I cried that they would never know her infectious laugh, her sly sense of humor, or her huge heart that made her always befriend the underdog. On that day, I wanted to be mothered. I wanted to hear my mom’s thoughts on my beautiful little baby, to hear her laugh, and to see her smile. I wanted a hug.

This morning, when I found that card, for a moment, I felt mothered. I felt the exact same way I remember feeling on the plane that day when I opened that card. It was simply awesome. For a brief moment it was like I had stepped back in time. What made it all even better was that right behind that card was a card from my mom’s mom. My grandmother and I, despite living 3,000 miles apart, we’re always close, I thought the world of her and she never made me feel any different from the other grandkids, even though I lived so far away. When she babysat me, she’d let me have fruit and icecream for dinner, for God’s sake. How awesome is that when you’re a kid? Why did she do it? Because once in a while, grandparents can do that sort of thing! That’s why! The card had a picture of the church in the village where I am from. There was also a letter that went with it asking if I remember the church, and that her, my mom, and my aunts and uncles had gotten married there. This made me laugh, because I didn’t remember this particular letter, but I too chose to fly to England and get married in that church, on the same weekend that my parents had gotten married there years before, and my bridesmaid was the daughter of my mother’s bridesmaid. The letter also said that she was sending a picture of her mother, and also her grandparents. I had been looking for these photos for several years and and had been devastated I had lost them, as I was the only person I knew of who had a copy of the picture of my great great grandparents.

Who would have thought that a house raid of a guy with tons of explosives would give me a huge gift on a snowy morning? A few pieces of paper instantly took me back to wonderful moments back in time, and reminded me of the two women who have had the greatest impact on who I am today. Of course, I am reminded yet again that I simply must archive all these family moments and notes. For a long time I couldn’t bare to do it because it often hurt too much once I’d start, and I’d quickly give up. I am getting to a point now where these tokens and memories of the past bring me renewed hope and happiness. My mother gave me a card once to bring me a smile, but I bet she had no clue that day she gave me what a truly great gift, all these years later, that it has become.

Bye for now,
Messy. Xx