Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Set Adrift on Memory Bliss

As I was going through pictures last week looking for ones of Grandma, I came across this one from our trip to San Francisco in 2011.  We were in a hot air balloon over Napa Valley for our 15 year anniversary.  What struck me about it is how it immediately reminded me of the journey we have taken with my Grandma through dementia.

You helplessly watch this person trying to navigate their new reality.  You want to get close enough to jump in the basket and help them take control but you can never get any closer than you are...clutching onto whatever is around you for support.  They are lost and floating further away from you.  All you can do is stand back, holding on and praying they find a way to navigate themselves again but knowing they never will.  It is a feeling that is not one I ever want to go through again.

This picture also represents how I'm feeling right now.  It's 2pm the day after we lost her.  I have posted pictures on my personal social media and gotten condolences from those I'm closest with and words of great comfort.  The arrangements are set and there is nothing to do but deal with this weird limbo of our new reality.  I'm already hearing some things I don't like and the poor Mr knows this is a sign of things to come where he'll be sounding board central.  Sorry in advance, Mr.  I am trying to handle myself with grace and I know that will be a challenge.  I am in no mood for an "us vs. them" mentality where people are concerned.  We all loved her.  We all have a right to grieve her.  We all count. 

I am trying to prepare myself for the impending viewings where well-intentioned people say crap that is going to make you want to smack them or hug them.  Where people you hope will show up, won't and where people you never thought you'd see, surprise you.  I am prepared to receive more comfort from strangers or people I don't see as much than family if my father in law's viewing was any indicator.  It's hearing stories from people you have no connection with that comfort you most because they share how that person impacted their lives.  They loved or respected them enough to take time out of their day to let the family know that and it does mean a lot.  As a person who has tried to search for some profound thing to say to those closest to the deceased, and flubbed up horribly, just say I'm sorry and this sucks beyond words.  Don't offer help you have no intention of giving.  Don't say they're in a better place because even in this horrifying end, all we want is to turn the clock back 9 years to when she was her fully functioning self and have her here.  Just keep it sweet, true to what you can actually give (a cooked meal, a phone call for them to cry, an offer to go out to lunch once they're settled or drop off a six pack on their doorstep with a text saying it's there) and for God's sake, fist bump if you're sick.  What are you, an animal?

It's 3:30pm and I haven't eaten anything yet.  The pain in my stomach and howling of my echoing belly are fierce.  I feel like I should fast for 24 hours or something to purge myself of all of this swirl of emotions.  But my hunger headache is real and one of the reasons intermittent fasting makes me a hot, bitchy mess.  I hear nothing but the sound of my fingers hitting the keyboards and the occasional raindrops hitting the screen door as the skies mourn her too.  I talked to her this morning before I went to sleep.  I told her I was sorry if anyone including myself did anything that she didn't like and to forgive us as we all came from a place of love even if we didn't agree on her care.  I asked her to understand that while I know she now has evolved past her human ego and weaknesses, I am still a human...and I'm pissed about some things.  So when she overhears me slamming some insensitivities of people as we begin this process, cut me some ethereal slack.  I thanked her for being a good grandma to me and loving and supporting me.  I asked her to visit me in my dreams and just as in life, do not pop in unannounced like when I'm pooping, naked or having relations because don't nobody need to see that...living or not.

It's 2am on the 29th now.  I'm tired and want to sleep but I'm not able to will myself upstairs yet.  This morning I got up and did laundry of funeral clothes I'll need in the coming days.  After our workout, I told the Mr. I had some ironing to do because I just wanted all of that done because I had a lot I needed to do the next day before the real treachery began.  After I steamed the chiffon on the black dress I was going to wear to the showings, I had several other things to iron and turned on the MP3 player.  Nana by The 1975 came on.  It's a song written by Matty Healy about his grandmother passing and though I already heard it once since she passed, but it seemed a fitting song as I was ironing funeral clothes.

I wish you'd walk in again
Imagine if you just did
I'd fill you in on the things you missed
Oh sleepless nights, a grown-up man dressed in white
Who I thought might just save your life
But he didn't, so you died
I don't like it, now you're dead
It's not the same when I scratch my own head
I haven't got the nails for it
And I know that God doesn't exist (I never sing that line)
And all of the palaver surrounding it
But I like to think you hear me sometimes....
I sat with you beside your bed and cried
For things that I wish I'd said
You still had your nails red
And if I live past seventy-two, I hope I'm half as cool as you

Tears streamed down my cheeks and I felt like I was in a Six Feet Under episode.

Not to be like a dog but there is a bird out there singing...it is 2 AM.  WTF dude!?!?  Hang on, I'm going to fling the door open and see if I can scare it off.  That failed.  There are like eight of them out there and they basically laughed at me.  At this point, I'd need to be like Drum in Steel Magnolias and shoot a firecracker laced arrow in the tree for them to leave.  This is seriously creeping me out.  It's dark, nowhere near dawn and I'm never going to be able to sleep even with my air purifier blaring.  Birdpocolypse: Hand Over the Suet and No One Gets Hurt.  Anyway.

I'm sorry I'm working backward a bit but this is the only thing helping me right now.  We will have gotten through the funeral by now in real time.  As I think of that, I am jealous of future me (or current me as you all read this.)  I wonder if future me made it through the eulogy without crying.  I wonder if anyone who hears me talks about the promise she made me keep all those years ago will say anything to me about it since no one has asked me why I haven't visited her other than holidays in four years.  I wonder if there was some sign she was there and watching us all.  I wonder if I ended up in a heap of Easter candy stress eating until I barfed.

I hope you can bear with me some this week as I'm sure I will write about her funeral tomorrow.  I know this is a big ol' downer and if it's triggery to some people, I don't mind you saying "good Lord woman, another post about your grandma or what you're going through?!"  *snooze for 30 days*  You know it's been a long 7 years and even if I have tried to put all of this in God's inbox, I've got some issues to get out.

Have you ever felt adrift in the airspace of life?

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  1. Say what you need to say. Scream it, cry it, do whatever you need to do to work through the unbelievable grief of losing someone so dear to you. We are listening and sending love.

  2. Going through this process when my Dad passed away was the first time in my life that I'd ever been through a grieving process that rocked me to my core. Of course you were there with me and had to go through it too. It most certainly doesn't get any easier no matter how many times you've been through it. Yet we all must go through it and I guess all you can do is try to learn from each and remember what the people who've left us would want us to remember about them. I was so blessed to know your Grandma and to have those memories to share with you.

  3. I hope you got throught the funeral without scratching anyone's eyes out, or beating them to a pulp, even if they deserved it. You're so right - everyone loved her and wanted the best for her, no matter that they disagreed on how to provide that.

    When My MIL passed it left a void that can never be filled and changed our family in so many ways. There are things that would have happened differently, and things that would not have ever happened had she been here.

  4. Do you ever listen to Lukas Graham? Funeral and 7 Years are amazing songs. I've already told my friends they are playing Funeral at my funeral :)

  5. This is the most powerful thing I have ever read about going through an important death....it is exactly how I felt when my mom passed in 1993 and I had idea how to express myself. This was spot on. Your writing really moves me - such a gift. Sending love and hugs during this sucky time.

  6. I completely understand the feeling of rudderlessness and being in a fog. There are so many emotions to try to process through, all the while having to deal with humanity. The mind and heart can only take so much in and after a while it all becomes static noise. You just keep writing and sharing whatever is going on with you and don't worry about anything other than getting your feelings out. This is YOUR time to grieve and process in whatever way you need.


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