No one tells you what grieving is like. Not really. Because, when the people are around, they try to tell you things that will allow you to move past the moment. That will help you try to move forward. In ten short days, my grandmother will be gone for five months. It sounds odd to say, because it does not feel like that long, not at all. I have been blessed to be loved so hard by my grandparents (even still, I know) that I still feel it every day. There are days I can’t seem to believe they’re gone, wondering almost when I’ll see them next, wanting to tell them things. And then there are days when it’s unbearable that they’re gone. And I realize that I am twenty-six years old. I have had a birthday without them. I will have many more. I was blessed to have my grandparents in my life for the first 25 years of my life. And I will miss them dearly for the rest of it. If I live to be 90, I will miss them for 65 years. The thought is heavy. It is saturated with love and tears, with memories. It is full of chocolate pudding and foxtrots and banjo music and playing cards. It is full of tomatoes and American flags and parades and brightly colored towels. It is full of hand-holding and story-telling and the sound of laughter. It’s the sound of voices I want to hear again sooner than I will.
And then there’s old grief, which comes up, as though my soul remembered all its losses. As though the old tears are pushed out by the new. My father’s father, who died when I was seventeen. I never knew him well, but we do share so many connections. I long for connection with him, still. To remember. I talk to my grandmother about him at times, about their relationship. I remember at mom’s mom’s wake when she arrived, I asked her what her and Papa’s song was. And she told me they had two special songs, Rosemary Clooney’s “Tenderly” which was their wedding song, and “Goodnight, Sweetheart” which was the last song they always played at the USO dances, where they met.
And then there’s Jessica. My childhood best friend, who died only a few years ago. I think of her often. Usually when I see things that remind me of our shared childhood and teen years– smiley faces and 90s graphics, Sanrio characters, old school AOL instant messenger (where we used to talk to boys), Grease; and songs like “Closing Time,” “Iris,” and others we used to listen to… usually at her prompting.
The grief comes in layers. But for tonight, I’ll remember.