I’ve been stuck since September. Stuck standing in one place watching the world pass by. I’ve been going through the motions trying to keep up, but I’ve dropped the things I knew I could and focused on doing what had to be done. I knew the things I’d dropped would bounce and I could pick them back up right where I left them, as soon as I was ready.
It’s now October and the things I’ve been holding onto so tightly are starting to unravel. I’m starting to unravel…and not in a bad way. I’m starting to process all the things I’ve been holding so closely to my heart. I’m starting to let go so I can hold on. We often fail to realize that to hold on to the things that matter most, we must first learn to let go.
In addition to the legacy of love she instilled in us all, my grandmother left us all something amazing. As a family, we came together once more to honor her memory and celebrate her life. That togetherness gave us the opportunitiy to reconnect and revisit our childhood memories. I’ll never forget us girls staying up into the wee hours of the morn sorting through Grandma’s things together, just as I’ll never forget all the midnight swims we took without our swimsuits. I’ll never forget my husband and brother bonding over jewelry as they untangled necklaces and placed dainty earrings into little baggies, just as I’ll never forget the time my brothers used me as bait to lure a rattlesnake out of its home…special swing just for me my arse!
There are things that are meant to live on forever in the generations of family that come after us. The memories we make with those we love stand against the test of time unwavering. These memories are protected and well kept in the most sacred places of our hearts. The stories we tell have the power to remind each other of the things we’ve forgotten and the stories we pass on to those who come after us will also live on long after we’re gone…as long as the words get passed on with the love. Even if the stories change, the love will still be there and the whole purpose of sharing these beloved memories and stories is to pass on the legacy of love we’ve all been given. The purpose is to instill in those we love the ideals of a different kind of life. A life void of tablets, cell phones, and Netflix. It was a life of hard work followed by play. It was a life of discipline wrapped in endless fun. It was a beautiful life and we’ll always have it with us.
If we focus too much on what we’ll miss now that our loved one is gone, we’ll miss out on more. We cannot exist in the past and so I look toward the future, ready to dig out of the muck and get back to work. My grief is still very real and it hits me when I least expect it, but I have more good days than bad, and that’s something. Grief is the worst when we forget a voice we are so used to hearing is no longer there. That the phone number we still know by heart no longer rings, and that the answer to the question nagging us won’t be so easily answered because the person who’d know it off the top of their head can’t be asked. Those are the moments that my grief comes roaring back like a rogue wave.
The thing is, that while I miss my grandmother terribly, if I hold on too tightly to all those things I know I’m going to miss now that she’s gone, then I’ll also miss out on the gifts she left behind for me to find. The gift of her dreams has been by far my most cherished inheritance and it’s a gift I don’t intend to squander.
I’m learning to let go of what’s not important so I can hold onto what really is.
Grieving is different for everyone because no two relationships are the same, just as no two people are the same. Your’s is the worst kind of grief because it’s the grief YOU feel (Webster). If you’re struggling with grief this article about the Ten Facts About Grief & Grieving is worth a read.
The article, written by Doctor Bill Webster, goes into some detail about each of the following;
- Grief is normal.
- The worst kind of grief is YOURS.
- The way out of grief is through it.
- Your grief is intimately connected to the relationship.
- Grief is hard work.
- You grief will take longer than most people think.
- Grief is unpredictable.
- There may be “Secondary Losses” to deal with.
- Grief comes and goes.
- Effective grief work is NOT done alone.
Now that I’m deep in the throws of my own grief a lot of this makes sense and some of it would have been great to know beforehand. Then again, it’s too easy now to say that if we’d known, we would’ve better prepared ourselves. No matter how prepared we make ourselves, we can never be truly prepared enough to lose someone we love.
Haunted by the Unknown
There’s so much I didn’t know. I didn’t know she wanted to be a writer…like me. I didn’t know she color coded her closet…like me. I didn’t know we had so much in common, or that our dreams were the same. I didn’t know what I didn’t know until she was already gone.
I didn’t know she and I shared the same thoughts and fears. We worried about the same why’s and what if’s.
Knowing what I know now isn’t all bad. Knowing my grandmother was a writer at heart has helped me help my mother as she sorts through her things. I’ve been able to guide my mom to the stories that are worth telling and help explain the words that are so incredibly hard to read. I knew her stories wouldn’t be with her worries and fears. I knew she would keep the two separate, because I do.
Words tend to haunt me, my thoughts echo hers and like her I have a journal that is merely a catchall for the words and thoughts that need to be purged from the depths of my soul. Like a bad dream they plague my mind and the only way to let them go, to make the mind quiet again, is to write them down. It’s a place one would find my greatest desires and biggest doubts. It’s the place that holds my fears next to my worries. Acknowledge them and move on. Writers have to tell their stories…even the ones we don’t want to tell, in order to move on to the next. Make room for the words we want to share and keep the words of self-doubt under lock and key.
I wish I’d known. I wish I’d known I was so much like her. I wish I’d known she felt so much like I have. I wish I could’ve offered her comfort. I wish I’d known we I wish I’d known that her dreams are my dreams. Most of all, I wish I’d been able to tell her all about my dreams and how they’re coming true.
Until We Meet Again
My grandmother loved having all of her family together in one place. It was all she ever wanted…all of her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids all in one place.
Her final act brought us all back together. The legacy of love she gave to us all brought us together to celebrate her and the amazing life she had. A beautiful life she shared with many. A life she poured her heart and soul into.
Someday, I’ll get to tell her about playing dress up in her dressing room with my big brother David. Sorting hats and purses, we had such a blast. She’ll love that. We’ll get to tell her we sat down at the end of each day and watched old home movies to our heart’s content because my other big brother Matthew wanted to do nothing else. She’ll love that too. I’ll get to tell her that even though I loved learning more about her by sorting through her things, I would much rather have had her there to tell me about every dress, pair of shoes, & beaded bag. She would have loved that. All of us girls piled onto her big bed listening intently as she described where she wore the dress and how it made her feel. Grandma didn’t keep the dress because she thought she would wear it again. She kept the dresses because of the memories they kept for her. Each dress with its matching pair of shoes and hand bag told a story. A story grandma loved being reminded of every time she saw that dress hanging in her closet. Someday, I’ll get to tell her all about becoming a published author and how much I wish I could’ve shared that with her. She’ll love that.
So, I’m going to slip into her shoes, close my eyes, and take a walk in her world. I’ll read her words, make her recipes, and absorb the faces in all the photos she left behind. For her loss has brought a renewed sense of what is truly important…those we love and the time we get to spend with them.
Goodbye, Farewell, Adieu
It’s not forever, it’s for now. For now, I’ll keep my head held high and remember everything you taught me. For now, a piece of my heart lives in Heaven.