Grief As Big As An Ocean.

I was overcome with grief the other night during dinner.

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.

My dad’s parents are both over a decade gone. Sometimes, it’s like yesterday.

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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.

My mom’s father passed away two weeks after Des was born. Her mother passed away only six months ago.

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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.

I hope I can find old and new ways to acknowledge and move through these pains.

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.

And it’s working.

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Sometimes I just dip a toe in, for a year or more, rather than get swallowed whole by the deep currents of pain.

You know how it is. Ebb and flow. High tides and low tides. A murky, undiscovered and vast center.

Loss and gain. Circles and spirals. Losing control of time.

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I am ever grateful my kids got to meet at least two of them. Scarlet will even remember my grandmother..

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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.

Like restaurant pancakes on a delayed opening morning.

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Or half-birthdays spent with pink cupcakes, presents and singing.

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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..

..but I’m a special breed. Maybe they are too, and I just haven’t seen it yet.

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I’m completely (or slightly) open to that possibility.

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Maybe such things just take time. Or they’re as ever-evolving as any mystery.

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As a matter of fact, there’s a cat on my lap as I write this. There usually is. I wonder what they know about grief.

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  1. Ok my twin, I am bawling as I type this as this time of the year as I head to February is extremely hard for me as we first lost my beloved grandfather back on Valentine’s Day in 1999. Like you this death hit me very hard and took me years to cope. I went through the motions of coping but I really was just plain devastated and the in 2010 we lost my grandmother (his wife) also in February and my heart ached all over again. Sounds crazy but I do very much get this and hope it doesn’t sound cliche but I can not only relate but also do know what you are feeling. I have no words here just please know you aren’t alone.

    1. I know you get it so much! It can be so hard. And it’s weird to be the middle generation now. It used to be that my mom was the middle generation and I was just starting to be another middle generation. I think I’m losing myself here.

      1. I totally get it and yes the middle generation thing is definitely getting to me, too as I am watching my parents get older and now no longer do have my grandparents. It didn’t hit me until after having Lily, but still.

        1. I feel the same way about certain things hitting me after Des was born. And I’m glad you understood. I wrote that when I had first woken up!

                1. The roads are fine here. They just made a premature call. Especially after Friday when it was considerable sloppiness and they did not cancel school or pave the roads!

  2. I think about my father in law a lot. I miss him and it comes and goes in waves. I totally understand what you are feeling. And those kitties are probably a lot more perceptive than you might think. The fact that they are always on your lap says something to me.

    1. Actually last night the one who is more nervous slept in our bed the whole night. Even when Scarlet joined us in the morning. Maybe she’s warming up to us. Then she was afraid of me again this morning, though!

  3. When I was seven, my
    Mom convinced my dad to agree with her and let me finally get what I wanted most on the world, (other than a white horse) a kitten. My mom knew that fulfilling dreams was celebrating life. Yes, you get that!

      1. Taffy was incredible or should I say “they” were incredible because he ran away when we moved to the suburbs. Six months later, we thought we had found “him” in my old neighborhood and my mom confessed to me in her 90’s that it was a different cat and they had to neuter him “again”!

    1. That’s a nice way to keep the memories so strong. My mom and I always say that we wish everybody could be together, but time doesn’t work like that.

  4. I’m sorry you’ve lost all your grabdparents, Tamara. That’s a very sad thing. I’ve only ever known 2 of my grandparents and I great, but one of the two have passed and the great. I remember the real sadness I had when my great grandmother passed. When my grandfather passed a few years ago, I was calm and peaceful, but it was very sad. In some ways when it comes to his passing, it’s a good thing he suffered with Alzhiemers for some years before he passed, though it was very hard to see him slowly slipping away like that. Today, the grief isn’t so bad, but I certainly kiss him and his antics. I wished he’d been able to meet Baby Boy with his full personality.

    The grief that still sometimes hits me most o’s that of my nephew. And all I know is to just feel it when it comes. Same as you did at dinner.

    Many hugs 🙂

    1. Yes! Just feel it when it comes.
      I think it’s amazing that when my daughter was born, she had four living great-grandparents. Even though my father’s parents passed away before her, my dad’s parents are both still alive. And she has met them!
      And she got to meet both of my mom’s parents, although my mom’s father died only two weeks after Desmond was born so they never met.

  5. I’m not sure that grief ever goes away completely. It hangs out in our bones, creeping up at different times calling attention to someone we might forget (if only for a moment). As big as an ocean, that’s for sure. I love your photos! The one of your grandfather is really special, Tamara!

    1. Thank you about the portrait! It was the last time I saw him.
      Grief is a strange thing. I think it has to be this way, in that it never goes away. We just care too much. If we never opened our hearts to love, it wouldn’t be this way, but I wouldn’t choose that.

  6. Grief is huge and constantly changes. Fitting that you share this now since today (yesterday?) was the anniversary of my dad’s passing. Feels like so long ago yet not so long. This is so beautifully written.

    1. Wow, huge hugs to you about that anniversary. We seem to have most of our bad ones in the summer, but my dad’s parents both passed away this time of year.

  7. Pieces of your art… oh yes, puzzle pieces become highlighted in moments unforeseen, the dark and light pieces of death and grief and life well lived and love alive always. It’s so so hard, when you have to allow the dark pieces to come front and center… oh but they are surrounded by such glorious pieces of joy and laughter and memories of years full of treasures shaping so many more pieces!!

    I’m so glad you are focusing your lens in on them and feeling their presence… as you can. And when you need, widen the lens and honor that full canvas, sweet friend. It paints a beautiful picture. Even in deep sadness.

    1. I love those opportunities to widen my lens and honor the full and beautiful canvas.
      Your comments are always so beautiful. I hope you save them all to you use in your blog!

  8. I never had to experience grief first hand, until my husbands father passed away suddenly this past October. It hit him like a tsunami, and another wave of it hit when our third baby was born. It actually never goes away, at least from what I can see when I look into his eyes. Its like an undercurrent that runs through his soul. I’m sorry for your losses, Tamara. Such a difficult topic, but so beautifully written.

    1. Oh no! I’m so sorry about your husband’s father.
      You can definitely see in the eyes of the people you love. I hope your new baby is giving you both lots of peace and healing.

  9. I hope it helps you to share your feelings Tamara, even the deepest and most personal feelings. I understood every word you wrote. I felt every word you wrote too. Time is the great healer even if it seems like a painfully slow process. You have happy memories with all of their pictures you have like the ones you shared with us, and allthe pictures of them in your mind. A single day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of my elder generation relatives who lived here and visited here during my 47 years in this house. They may never be here with me again, but they will never be far away from me. Sources of comfort are always close at hand in our loved ones who are here with us including furry and purry cats on our laps.

    1. It’s true about the sources of comfort. They come from so many places, whether inanimate or kids or animals.
      And of course, family and friends.

  10. You wondered what cats know about grief. When my husband died, I nearly lost our cat, also. She didn’t move or eat for days. When I picked her up she was limp in my arms. A friend suggested I lay her down outside and nature would restore her natural instinct to live. I did, and her eyes immediately started darting around. After a couple of hours she got up and started eating again. That was over 5 years ago now, and it is how you wrote it. By the way, you should offer pet photography to your clients, if you don’t already.

    1. Thank you! I do actually offer it. I’ve done it a few times. I love pet photography.
      That’s such a story about your cat. And it tells more than anything else you could read about cats.

      1. Thank you for replying. Do you always reply to your comments? How lovely (if so). I wished I had been able to edit my above comment to add: “how you *so beautifully* wrote it,” but editing is not featured for commenters. But as long as I’m here, I’ll also add I’m sorry you lost your grandparents. I only knew one growing up (my brother may remember another one). And all of us (cousins) lost parents in childhood. Did my bro ever tell you about our dad? He was supposed to die at birth, but outlived all his family, siblings, our mom. But without pain and sorrow how would we learn to appreciate this moment now? If not for grief and dark moments, how would I have ever have ended up here, commenting on your blog?? Without the certainty of death, what would make life precious now? This moment will never come again, and It could all be gone tomorrow. Of course, if it is all gone tomorrow, that’s just another door opening. Life is endless trauma and doors opening and hellos and goodbyes, moment after maddening moment. No wonder I relate to your anxiety so much. And cookie eating.

        1. I definitely always reply to comments!
          Ernie hasn’t talked about your parents a lot. I would love to hear more, especially how fascinating it is that your father survived, and that made you two possible. And the grandchildren! And who knows? Maybe Devin will have kids too.

          1. I am awed that you always reply to comments, and thrilled you would love to hear more. I would love to tell you more. Devin’s wife wants kids, so I am looking forward to more grandnieces/nephews. 🙂

  11. I’m so sorry for your losses. I know the grief that comes from the passing of someone you love and the abandonment by someone you love. Sometimes the grief washes over me and it takes my breath away. Every once in a while I let it settle in, but I push it away when it becomes to much. I don’t know if it’s the “right” way to handle it, but it works for me and my current needs. I pray you find strength and joy in their memories amidst your grief.

    1. I guess there is no right or wrong. I do the same so often. It’s when I forget to pick it up later that I personally suffer. I think we can only take so much, though.

  12. I was 5 when one of my great-grandmothers passed away (the other one passed away when I was 7 or 8, but I didn’t really know her as well). Because I was so young, the grief didn’t really hit me for several years, and it too would hit me unexpectedly in waves. I feel very fortunate that I got to know two of my great-grandparents. Eve has been able to meet Sam’s grandfather (sadly, all of mine have passed away), and hopefully he will live long enough for her to remember him. He’s so full of life, he’s 95 or 96 and can still drive!

    The sadness of my family members comes at unexpected times, and always with a twinge of regret as I was out of the country for both my paternal grandfather and grandmother’s funeral (I was tempted to fly home from Bolivia for the latter, but my dad told me to stay).

    1. I was just saying that when my kids were born, they had four living great-grandparents. Granted, one passed away only two weeks after Desmond was born. My dad’s parents are both still alive. My father’s parents passed away, but my dad’s parents are still alive and kicking!

  13. I didn’t like grief so I pushed and pushed and pushed against it. That meant all the things that reminded me of them I got rid of and hid away. I didn’t want to hear about stories…or their names. I didn’t want anything to do with them.
    The pain, I just knew the pain would devour me and I’d never come back.
    It hits me every now and again, and it hits hard. Smells, in my garden, the mention of her name, when Chase’s asks who my grandma was….we all deal with it in our own ways. I love that you can sense them in the little moments in your life. That you can feel them smiling upon you. That’s a blessing in itself.
    Love you.

    1. That’s why I’m always afraid of. Being devoured by pain. I think defense mechanisms probably come in handy, even if they’re not always the right way. I guess who’s to say what’s right or not?
      Love you.

    1. That’s what gets me about it and I even have nightmares about it. It’s the permanence. It’s trying to wrap your head around the fact that you will never hug someone again. That’s what I don’t like to think about.

    1. Sometimes I think I love them, but other times they make me so mad. It’s like a take relationship with no give back.
      Although the one I like more spent the whole night on our bed last night and didn’t even mess around. She just cuddled in and purred to sleep.

  14. Cat’s are pretty perceptive actually…

    something similar happened when my grandfather died, I was in college and called home – because he had been sick and I found out he had passed away, but then I had to take a final and spend over 24 hrs away from everyone – until someone picked me up to go home. It was pretty depressing.

  15. I think it is sad when people put a timeline on grief, as in “you should be over that by now.” I was very close to my grandmother and even this past New Year’s Eve the entire family cried as we sang her favorite song and thought of her. It was beautiful to remember her, actually, even if it hurt.

    I hope that some day I get to leave a legacy where people miss me…is that selfish to say?

    1. It’s not selfish to say, otherwise what’s the point? I get all existential sometimes about feeling like nothing matters. Mostly I feel like everything matters.

  16. It’s hard losing people you love. My husband’s grandma died last January and my kids miss her a lot. They want to know when she is coming back. Even though I explained to my six year old that she isn’t coming back he has been praying for her return. She was such a beautiful person. I’m just glad that they remember her and still think about her.

    1. It sounds like your six-year-old is a beautiful person too. I remember when it happened with my grandmother this past summer, and Scarlet asked me when she was coming back. Really hurt.

  17. I think animals are really tied into our moods. When I was pregnant and or sick my dog followed me around relentlessly. She knew she needed to watch me and did her job. She even went and got my husband when she knew things were bad. I am allergic to cats so can’t give you much insight there, but I have friends who swear their eyes can tell you whole stories….

    1. That explains why one of them just glared at me for five minutes straight!
      The dog definitely seems more in tune with human emotions. I think cats are too, but maybe they don’t care as much. Or have a funny way of showing it.

  18. Tamara, I’m sending you hugs! My Grandmother passed away in May of 2011. I remember I wasn’t able to fly out to go to her funeral, because we couldn’t afford the airline ticket. Because I didn’t get to go to her funeral I’m still grieving. I never had closure, and still can’t believe that she is gone.

    Your kitties are adorable. I’ve always been a cat person.

    1. Oh no! So sorry about the lack of closure. Sometimes I can’t believe they’re gone either. I’ve never been a cat person but I do appreciate that many people are.

  19. I think your pain validates the importance of those in your life. Your grief means they matter. The impact of their lives on you and others is so important to acknowledge.

  20. You are making me miss my aunt who passed away 2 years ago. I can still hear her voice – and I call my girls little stinkpots the same way she used to call me that. I also recently went to my dog’s old vet and I cried…it’s been 3 years since he went to doggy heaven but it’s amazing how a memory or a place or a song can trigger such intense emotions. Hoping you have an awesome trip!

    1. Memories of places and songs. It’s amazing.
      So sorry about your dog! I have those losses too. I remember so many things fondly over time, but I can still get the sting.

  21. I think cats and dogs somehow know all the answers to grief and healing! That’s why they comfort us in our times of need. My “mother-in-law’s” grandmother-in-law just passed away last night, and she asked about my son shortly before. Loss is hard, but it sure does make us grow!

  22. Oh, I so feel you on this… Grief is so malleable, in my opinion, such ebbs and flows, and sometimes coming at you like a tidal wave when you least expect it, sometimes coming at you like a tidal wave when you do.

    I find that place triggers memories, and grief, but also music. There are songs I could not listen to for years after my mother’s death. But now I can, on occasion, and sometimes I choose to in order to test the wound, press on the bruise, and see how it feels, how much I feel, because feeling is healing and feeling is remembering, as much as it may hurt.

    This is a loving and lovely tribute to your grandparents. I imagine they would smile at your words and feel fullness in their hearts.

    1. I do that too. Press on the bruises.
      I have another very good friend Dana who comments on my blog and I was reading this and thinking it was her, until I got to the part about your mother’s death. (so sorry) Then I realized it was you again! Now I am following your blog so I can hear more beautiful words.

  23. I often get overwhelmed by grief. Especially when I think of my grandmother. It is that kind of, “If she could see me now” type grief. The fact that she met my son and not my daughter, the fact that she hadn’t been able to see what her love and affection had helped me become. It’s been over 8 years and I still miss her daily.

  24. The “random” nature of grief is something that often takes us by surprise. One minute we are fine, and then the next we are hit with a scent or an memory or see an object and we are immediately under water. I think we all go through this, and anyway we find to get through is the right way. I love animals as well, as I think they are very perceptive and offer a special kind of comfort!

    1. I think it’s so interesting how random it is. It’s probably not as random as it seems, but sometimes the triggers are hidden.
      There are some animals that have even been studied and do grieve!

  25. Sorry to hear of all the loss you’ve experienced. I was thinking the other day I haven’t lost anyone yet – I’m not sure how that will affect me knowing someone won’t come back. Definitely not good to bottle things up so happy you’re working towards letting things release. The cycle of life is something that is so simple, one thing dies another one is born in its place; and yet so complex we’ll never fully understand it or comprehend it. Let alone it’s impact on someone else or ourselves depending on the situation. I had your Friday post up since Friday and plenty of others.. but this blog post I’m working on is more time intensive than I anticipated… Ha. Hope being in Florida brings pleasant memories and that you are able to have a wonderful time 🙂 Can’t wait to see all the photos! Have a great one Tamara! Back to blog work I go -Iva

    1. Wow. I can’t imagine not having lost anyone! I guess there’s some good health and youth in your family.
      I had a friend like that but she is now 33, and I can imagine she has lost someone now. I hope not, though!

      1. Well here’s the thing: all my grandparents are gone. I never met my father’s parents, since they lived in Dominican Republic. The one time I went with my mother, she didn’t take me to their city. They never came here. My mother’s father died in his sleep from a heart attack in his late 30’s. And my grandmother (mom’s mom) died when I was 5; so the emotional response wasn’t there. Health is OK except we suffer from heart conditions and all things heart-related, so I got o my doctor regularly for cholesterol and BP checks, I have a BP machine to ensure it’s normal throughout the month lol. My sister is someone I’ve mentally accepted will pass in the next few years and I think, while I’m not prepared because one never is, I’m more mentally prepared than the rest of the family. It is what it is, poor life choices- she’s on an oxygen tank now so no more smoking, I hope this sticks!

        1. Your sister!! She must be so young! I didn’t realize that poor life choices could affect someone so young. Well I suppose it depends on the life choices.

          1. Yep! She’ll be the big 4-0 I believe tomorrow and poor life choices yes mostly after subsequent health scares that should have stopped these behaviors but have not. If you face death about 3 times you should probably evaluate your life choices, otherwise don’t look at me for a pity party because I’m not throwing one or attending.

  26. I understand. It’s always sad when someone passes.

    Our cat knows Tom is deploying. He keeps staring at Tom and sleeping on all his things. It’s his way of saying, “Don’t go. Don’t leave me with these people!”

  27. Certainly grief is like the ocean, like you said so beautifully! For me, it’s the small things that bring on the grief but then I see my dad’s orchid blooming, and I feel comfort that he’s still here. What wonderful beautiful photos of your kittens! Just love their eyes, so sharp and observant.

    1. Thank you! I think their eyes look a little creepy. Like they’re glowing!
      Orchids are so beautiful. And I love that you know that he still here.

  28. Oh Tamara, it’s really rough going through those memories. T inherited my grandmother’s rosary, and we found them the other day. Sometimes it’s so sad to know that she will never know the woman she’s named after. But then again, I also see my grandparents’ spirit in my kids, and even in my relationship with my husband. That’s one of the ways they live on. It’s good to know you’ve figured out how to keep yourself from going back into that long, deep, dark place again. And I know your kids are happy that you’ve kept your grandmothers’ spirit alive with all those yeses.

    1. Scarlet is named after my grandma Bella! Her middle name is Bella. And it’s a little funny because that’s what she chose to name our gray cat. Luckily the gray cat is the most favored one in this house. Now if my sister were to have a daughter, I think maybe she would name her after my other grandmother.

  29. Oh yay the kitties are back! I have missed them! I am sorry that grief hit you so hard the other day.I am certain that your grandparents are looking down at all of you always. I think our pets can tell when we are hurting and life is better with a pet sleeping on your lap. 🙂

    1. I swear I would take more photos of them if I actually saw them. They like to hide all day and then cuddle in my lap at night when the lighting is poor!
      They do seem fairly intuitive at times. And the dog is very.

  30. I daresay I’ve never experienced this kind of loss, or grief. Sometimes I wonder if that makes me lucky or just completely detached from people so as to avoid that kind of pain. But of course losing my parents or one of my siblings or friends or Andy would be devastating.
    And your writing, again! Bringing to mind Langston Hughes with your ‘grief deferred’ bit!
    You take the prettiest pictures of your least favorite pets 🙂

    1. I doubt that it’s that you’re detached. Maybe there just hasn’t been that kind of loss. Other than my father, I lost many extended family members in my childhood but none felt the way it felt when my grandmother passed away when I was 21. Since I didn’t have the emotional response when my father passed away, I truly understood it with my grandma.

  31. The emotions in your words are so strong that I feel as if I were there with you too. I guess I agree that grief doesn’t have a time limit or expiration.. although I haven’t been in that state yet. I’m not sure if I can handle it. Usually, we just move on. Or maybe not really because we somehow get used to someone being gone.. or not. I don’t know which one is sadder though.

  32. Grief is such a hard thing to go through but you wrote it so beautifully. I still miss all my grandparents..they passed away awhile ago and I often wonder how they would connect to my son who missed out on that great-grandparents experience. We keep their memories alive by sharing families stories. Your photos are so beautiful as always.

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad that my daughter will remember my grandmother. And actually, even though my father’s parents passed away years ago, my dad’s parents are both still alive!

  33. There are days that I feel the same when I think about my grandparents – I was much closer to them than I ever have been with my mom. All of my happy memories from my childhood are tied to them. I’m grateful that they were part of my life as long as they were and that my boys had plenty of years to get to know them. My grandmother (Mema) is the person I always wanted to be like – even today I still try to make choices that would make them proud.

    1. Well I am very close to my mom, but I think the loss of my grandparents was so hard, because they created my father. And I never really knew him.
      On the bright side, his surviving siblings are still very much in my life.

  34. Grief is a vicious roller coaster. Just wen you think the worst is over you are surprised by a big drop. And the ride is unique to everyone.

  35. I was very close to my maternal grandmother and the last time I saw her I was just beginning to shoe with my first pregnancy. She rubbed my belly and was so happy for me. I swear to this day that she knew her time was up and some of her “spunk” went straight through my belly into Rachel! Somedays her personality is so much like my Mammaw. Occasionally I even call her Eula! I miss her so much sometimes and wish she had actually gotten to see my girls. After raising two sons, I was her only granddaughter and she spoiled me rotten. I’m sure she would have fawned all over my girls if she had met them. Sending you hugs!

  36. Grief is a weird thing, isn’t it? Because it hits people in different ways, and sometimes you just don’t know when it’ll hit. On a side note, I don’t like cats either, but you take spectacular photos of them!

  37. Thinking of you friend! You are right you never know when the waves of grief will hit. My grandfather passed away the year I got married, and I know he would have loved to meet my boys.

  38. I still get moments of overwhelming grief, and my grandma has been gone for eight years now. I feel like I’m in some alternative universe and she’s really still here, but then I know she’s not, and it makes me feel sort of panicky. It’s a lifelong process I suppose. I’m not a cat person either, but they sure are cute!

    1. It makes me feel panicky too. It’s like I’m afraid to fully except it because I would never stop crying. On the other hand, there are so many beautiful parts of life to both distract us and heal us.

  39. Someone smart said it better, but I can’t remember who – that the best way to deal with something is to go right through it. It probably is that way with grief. I’m not convinced there’s ever a finish line, but there’s a cognizance of our own feelings and the acknowledgement that we can have sadness and gratitude mixed in.

    I’m sad my dad isn’t here. I’m grateful his legacy lives on in me and my kids.

    Regarding cats. I think they know. Cybill, our family cat, used to sit on the top of my dad’s recliner as he watched TV. After he died, she still sat there. It was like she was waiting for him to join her.

    1. Well you are smart and you said it pretty great.
      It’s true. I think we all know that when we don’t go straight through, it takes a hell of a long time, if at all, to get through all the crap.

  40. Such a hard, hard thing to process through. And even after it’s been years, something can happen out of the blue…a perfume scent, a favorite food your grandparents use to make…and the feelings come flooding back.

    You’re doing a great job though, saying yes to your kids and being so, so present in their lives, it helps to keep us on an onward track.

    1. It’s often a perfume scent! She wore a very specific one, and every now and then I catch it. I was talking about my paternal grandmother in that case.
      Saying yes to my kids is pretty amazing.

  41. Okay girl, I am going through Tamara withdrawls. I know you are loving it up on a well deserved vacation so enjoy. This was a very emotional post to read. I need to get some some chocolate stat!

        1. Both! I will certainly have sunny pictures, weather willing. We’re starting our trip in St. Augustine, which is a bit colder than Orlando. I’ll still take it over today’s 3° morning.

  42. I still have sadness when I think of my grandparents being gone. Such happy memories with them. And two of my children did get to meet them. They were both gone by the time #3 arrived. But the sadness that I never knew my dad’s parents is far more crushing at times. I have a whole DNA connection out there – maybe – just floating around. I can’t think on it too often; but I do wonder what influence they might have also had on me.

    My cat doesn’t sit on my lap. he doesn’t come rub against your legs. he doesn’t come over for a pet or a snuggle.
    my cat can’t cat. 🙁

    1. Oh no! That’s not cool, cat!
      They have very varying personalities, and I think most are not for me. But mine are both very cuddly.
      I get pretty weird about my kids having all six of their grandparents for a very long time.

  43. I think about my grandparents often. The two I grew up with, and the two I never knew. I’m so sad that they never met my children – even more sad than I am about missing them myself. I’m just so grateful they have four grandparents in their lives now.

    1. I think about that a lot. I grew up with seven because of the blended families. But of those seven, I wasn’t close to seven. Maybe two or three. Sometimes four. My kids have six and it’s equal.

  44. It’s crazy how the waves are really never ending. I have certain loved ones that I think about at the most random of times. I wish we could pick when these feelings show up so that we can prepare and deal accordingly!

    1. That would be the perfect solution! Instead we find ourselves picking up the pieces in the strangest places. I guess it’s all good, though. To feel is better than not.

  45. Tamara, I understand this so well. Every time a memory of my father hits, it is like a sucker punch to the gut. The grief never quite goes away. When it happens, I try to remember the goodness. Sending hugs. xo

    1. It’s funny because my father has been gone so long, but I still find myself missing him in the strangest ways. And I miss that I never knew him more.

  46. I don’t think anyone can know what a cat thinks or knows. I’m with you on preferring the puppy 😉 Athena is amazing. I’m rambling on, because I don’t really know what to say about grief. Except that I would sit with you anytime. I think you’re right with the ebb and flow – it never goes away, it becomes part of life, and hopefully a part that gets easier to bear… xoxox

    1. I would sit with you anytime too.

      I know that one of my cats is constantly thinking about food. The other one seems to be plotting to take over the world.

  47. It is funny how much we associate certain places with memories of loved ones, who have moved on. I have that with my dad. I don’t think there is anything that I regret more (well, maybe except for not having kids), but David never meeting my dad and vice versa – oh well, I guess it was not meant to be…
    Your cats look so adorable, you shoot the best pictures of them. But, of course, having a dog like Athena, you have to wish for another one. Yet, be careful what you wish for, it might happen and be the opposite of her 🙂 My cat who died a few years back certainly knew when I was down. She would come right up and cuddle with me, pounce and purr. And trust me, she was not the cuddly kind.

  48. I know that sudden wave of grief you are talking about. When my grandfather died, it didn’t really affect me (so I thought) because I knew he was sick and hadn’t been himself for two years. But every so often, I’m reminded of him and the sting hurts so bad to know he isn’t here and that he didn’t get to meet my sons. I have dreams about him and I can definitely hear him laughing when my sons do silly things. I feel like you’re not supposed to really be sad over grandparents dying because they’re OLD and OLD PEOPLE die. But it doesn’t feel that way when it actually happens to you.

    1. That’s what’s so interesting. I feel the same way, like it should be less sad. Sometimes it’s even more sad because of all the memories. My grandparents lived to age 100, and it is so sad.

  49. Boy do I understand this on so many levels. My grandmother died very unexpectedly – okay, I guess it’s never unexpected when they are old, but she had been doing so well and seemed like she had a few years left. My grandmother loved me more than anyone else ever has. She is the only one who seemed to notice how hard the rest of my family was on me. I was only 21 when she died. She never met my husband or my children, and I hate that. But, when Kathryn died, I was glad she was up there to take care of her.

    As for the cats – I love kittens. My husband doesn’t like owning cats, but we used to have two and he loved them. At least one of them. I know cats know grief. When my older cat died, the younger one wandered aimlessly around the house, crying, for days. It broke my heart. I guess it’s hard for all of us to say goodbye.

    1. Oh, that’s so sad! And I’m glad you had that love from her in your life. I’m just so sorry she is gone. And that your family was hard on you.

      And it does seem like it would be hard for cats too. They can feel.

  50. So strange I have been thinking about my grandparents a lot lately – they are all gone. 3 of them died within a year of each other. It was a rough year. I miss them.

  51. I was overcome with grief last week, which is unusual because I haven’t lost many people (thank goodness). My grandmother, gone more than 10 years, came to mind. She was on my mind a lot last week. So I wrote about her. It helped. But I still grief.

  52. Pawning cats off to blog readers??? Thank you for never asking me to adopt the cats, it would be very hard to reject you. Grief…on one hand, I respect grief immensely and value the connection it affirms we have with our loved ones. But on the other hand, I don’t want to lose anyone I love in physical form. EVER. Your photos are perfect and flow beautifully in this post. Just like your words.

    1. I only really want to give away one of my cats. Although the one that I want to give away slept on me last night. That was rather sweet.
      You have quite the way with words yourself, even in comments. Sometimes I save the emails. I think you could make a greeting card line.

  53. i do think grief cycles through, just like life. there is death, and birth, and then all over again. but grief never goes away. for me, it always comes back to haunt. sometimes it’s severe and other times it’s just in passing. it can be very hard, so i understand.

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