It was a grief so strong, like a suffocating wave, that I put my fork down and let it come. A bit. Grief waves are both random and not. They can come forcefully after weeks, months, and even years of just shallow, lapping waves. There is always a reason. I remember the grief wave I got last year in Florida during a rainy and stolen afternoon with just Des at the Downtown Disney marketplace. It’s Florida. Florida is both sets of grandparents. My father’s parents always loved everything Disney and would vacation in Orlando. My mom’s parents lived half, and then eventually all, of their years in the Fort Lauderdale area.
The day I found out my Grandma Bella had passed away was the day I had my last journalism final of the fall semester of my senior year of college. It was the only thing holding me back from holiday break. I woke up that morning and walked into the kitchen and instantly saw that something was wrong in my mom’s body language. She’s usually so cheerful and that day she was sunken and staring down at the kitchen table. I hadn’t expected Grandma Bella’s death so soon but I wasn’t surprised to hear the words come out of my mom’s mouth. I couldn’t imagine anything else on earth that would make her look so sad.
But I didn’t fall apart. At least not right away. I couldn’t with so much work to be done. I drove to Rutgers with my hands firmly on the steering wheel, determined to go in there and kick ass, which I did – getting an A on the final and in the class overall. Then I returned home and fell into a deep, dark, seemingly endless hole for a very, very long time. My grandfather passed away a little over a year later and I worried then that I’d never be happy again. I’m glad I was wrong.
That pain is new. In both cases, perhaps sadly, I was closer to my grandmothers. Last year in Florida, my grandmother was still alive and not far from my thoughts. When we go back to Florida in two weeks, they all four will be close at heart.
Grief, as you know, comes and goes with new life adventures. There is no time limit or expiration date. It just is. It’s encompassing while also being survivable. Maybe bits and pieces of us die off, with each loss, but don’t we get built up again and again by new life and new love? Sure. Sometimes I wonder – how long can you hang in the balance of sadness? What happens to a sadness deferred? I shudder to think about what becomes of it or what it becomes if you never confront it. I used to numb myself from pain and it would turn into nausea and it debilitated my life. And I’m just trying not to do that anymore.
I like to think of their celebratory natures. I can almost sense their smiles over my shoulder when I do something spontaneous or fun or adventurous with my kids. When the kids ask and I answer, and the answer is nearly always “yes.” That’s the spirit.
And these darn cats. It was my grandmother’s death that ultimately had me tell Cassidy to go get Scarlet the kitten she had been asking for. I started to think that life was too long, and too short, all at once. So then he came home with two kittens, and quite honestly, it has never seemed like a good idea. I know I sound terrible but I just want another puppy. I wonder what my mother’s mother would think about these cats. She probably wouldn’t be looking to pawn them off to blog readers..