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It’s a Process.

For about two weeks now, I’ve been in a strange, suspended straight line of emotion. Two Mondays ago, I picked up a work at home job. A very lengthy work at home job. I know I’m insane to have said yes, with a new baby only a week or so home with us. I guess desperation makes us do crazy things sometimes. I was also a bit sick, that same day I started the job.

And on that same Monday, that I started a work-heavy job, and I was a bit sick, I found out my grandfather had passed away. The blow was deafening to everything around me. I tried not to cry because crying actually hurt my sinuses. It was brutal. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t not cry. I’m not pleased or proud of what I did, but I pushed off grieving “for another day.”

Grieving is a process. I know that. I’ve always known that. The thing about grieving is that you actually have to do it. You may even have to kickstart it into gear. You have to make the effort – you have to process the feelings – you have to accept the feelings. You can maybe push it off “for another day,” but certainly not for two weeks. Not healthily.

My grandfather clipped out several copies of the same article for each of his grandchildren before he passed away. He put them into individual envelopes and stashed them away. In this article, I believe, was a story about his great art and how long he was able to create this great art. I haven’t been able to read this article yet. I kept thinking it was “for another day.” I decided I would properly grieve when I was done being sick. When I was done being sick, I decided I would properly grieve when I was done with this intense work at home job. It doesn’t leave room for much else. It barely leaves room for tending to a big kid (not a toddler anymore!) and a newborn baby. In honesty, the big kid and the newborn don’t leave room for the work. It has been hard to complete this task, and certainly not good for my poor body, but I completed it this weekend.

Yesterday I felt my first memorable high in two weeks. Scarlet and Cassidy were out at the car wash and I held Desmond on the couch while the early evening sun streamed in on our faces. Des was able to lock eyes with me, and he held my gaze for long moments. Then his lips curled up in a big, genuine smile. It reached his eyes. Recognition! “Yes,” I said. “I’m your Mama.” A bit confused by his own facial movements, he tried again. It was a crooked smile with half of his lips. It still reached his eyes. That’s how I knew it was real. He is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Even when he’s making his “Old Man Bowman” face.

As I was telling someone very special in an email this morning, my grandfather died on the same day, July 2nd, that my father died. And while it was a hard day for so long for my mom and sister and me, maybe it’s just a powerful day. Not good. Not bad. Maybe for my grandfather leaving this earth at 100 years of age, with a very poor quality of life, well, maybe he left this earth for something more peaceful and final. I don’t know what I believe but all I feel is the power of July 2nd. Like a choke-hold around my throat. Either way, I feel it. I’m trying to feel it. I’m succeeding in feeling it.

I started writing this as a test to myself. So consumed by my job and my kids and my health, I wanted to take an hour or so to sit here and think, and maybe write, about my grandfather. And everything you have read above and below is part of this quiet hour. Scarlet is with Cassidy. Des is asleep. I’m not doing work. I am healthy. I am just reflecting and writing.

My Pop Pop.

– We used to go to Dartmouth together every summer. He would take us to the wondrous bookstore on campus and let us pick out books. I know I have always been the biggest reader out of the five of us kids so I’m not entirely sure what they were allowed to pick out, but he once let me pick out EIGHT books to keep. EIGHT. One summer we went alone, just the two of us. I picked out my books at the bookstore and then we went to a college dining hall to have lunch together. It was my idea of heaven. Books and cafeteria food. I’m not very hard to please. My Pop Pop knew the way to my heart.

– He drove until he was about 99. He used to make us a bit carsick, to be honest, and that was way before he turned 99. We used to sit backwards in the station wagon. We called it the “way back.” Do they still make cars like that? Probably not. It was so queasy-inducing, but I’d probably give up my left arm, and my lunch, to sit in the way back again, him at the wheel.

– I’ll always look for him in all of the places to love. I know you can’t chase a memory but I’ll never stop looking for him. Vermont museums and New Hampshire bookstores. Hot, sunny rides from the airport past alligator ponds. A loft in a New England house. An Italian restaurant. You can’t touch a memory, but I’ll always try. I’ll never stop looking for him.

– He was very…passionate about my love life. I realized then and I know now that it was because he loved me a lot and knew he wouldn’t be around forever and wanted to know I was happy. I had no qualms about finally introducing him to Cassidy. In all honesty, I never had any qualms about introducing Cassidy to anyone in my life, including my harshest critic friends. He is solid. However, that is a story I already told. My Pop Pop adored Cassidy. He called him “Cassidichi” and when we spoke on the phone, he first asked me how I was. Then he immediately would ask how my wonderful husband was. Always. I’m glad there were years that he saw me get involved with and marry someone who would make me happy.

Well, Pop Pop. I am happy.

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