Thursday, June 24, 2010

Random quick thoughts about things that deserve their own posts

  1. Grief is funny. I am alternately numb and then agitated and then forgetful. I tell myself I'm completely fine and then find myself crying over something mundane. Today it was while I was filling my cup with Diet Coke at Jimmy John's. Why? I don't know.
  2. One week ago today was Husband and my 15th Wedding Anniversary. We saw Patty Griffin in Ann Arbor and spent the night alone! without children! at a hotel. It was a lovely break.
  3. Gabriel has spend the last month reading Harry Potter like a madman. He is now partway through Book 5. At the library they had to give him an extra sheet to keep track of his (many many) summer reading hours. I predict he will have finished Book 7 by the end of July. Last night he asked me to lie down with him for a few minutes because we were having a thunder storm. We laid in bed in the dark and quietly talked about Harry Potter for about half an hour. It was a very sweet mother-son moment.
  4. Lana and I had a few really difficult weeks that culminated in what I have been calling "The Incident of the Cherry Pomegranate Crystal Light." Have you SEEN the cherry pomegranate crystal light? It is the reddest drink I have ever seen. It is ALSO incredibly tasty. Lana was behaving badly, and while she did not deliberately dump the red juice on my lime green carpeting, she did deliberately kick the table which cause the juice to spill. There is a big stain on my carpet. We had the fit of the century that involved tears and screaming. We spent a long time scrubbing carpet cleaner into the stain together. Lana has been behaving better since this incident, but my carpeting is definitely worse for wear. Part of me wonders if she was testing me for several weeks to see if I would still love her when she was bad, and maybe she figures the carpet stain is proof I won't kick her to the curb? I don't know.
  5. Lana handed me a piece of paper two nights ago that read as follows: "I have ?s for Mom. Plees circl YES or NO. 1. Do you love me? YES OR NO. 2. Will you alwys tak care of me? YES OR NO. 3. If you did not love me, do you think that I woold love you? YES OR NO." So, the first two questions were easy. That third one? WHAT THE HELL? Is that an emotionally complex and loaded question or what???? I circled YES. Lana studiously made check-marks next to each of my answers. I asked, "What did you want me to answer for the last question?" She said, "It's not what I want you to answer, Mommy. It's would I love you if you didn't love me. It's not about wanting or not wanting." I said, "That's hard for me to answer because I DO love you." Lana went back to making check-marks. I still am clueless about this exchange.
  6. The next two days will be full of rituals to say good-bye to J~. My heart is heavy and I'm not sure if it will be worse when all of the friends and family have gone back to their normal lives...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Thunder Rolls and the Lightening Strikes

J~ slipped away from us at 2:45 this morning.

Immediately afterwards the sky shook with thunder and lightening for almost an hour.

Like his mother (my grandmother), J~ loved thunderstorms.

Perhaps there is a scientific explanation for the timing, a change in atmospheric pressure...

Perhaps it was merely coincidence.

But I am choosing to believe it was his grand farewell.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Though We Meet With the Darkness and Strife, The Sunny Side We Also May View

On Sunday we attended the baptism of the lovely Ella Man Li.

During the service, I was sitting next my friend H~ (aka Ella's mommy.)

It was a Lutheran service, somewhat different from the Episcopal service we are used to, and it featured some modern religious music.

Towards the end of the service, however, we sang what I will affectionately call an "old timey" hymn. I am hard-pressed to tell you what hymn it was, but it reminded me of songs I sang as a child during the "hymn-sings" my grandfather often led in the church basement.

Unbeknownst to me, H~'s uncle was sitting directly behind me, keeping in check an impressive voice. But when he began to sing the old-time hymn, he let loose with an accomplished baritone...or possibly a tenor.

I will admit to being emotionally vulnerable these days. Highly, highly emotionally vulnerable. The death we are all expecting/anticipating/dreading is a lingering one. We are caught in a web of waiting and grieving. It's painful.

All of this is a preface for this admission - his voice made me cry.

The tears began slipping out and then wouldn't stop. I wondered if I was hearing the voice only in my head, because, for a split second, I thought...that I heard my grandfather singing the hymn in my ear.

H~ handed me a tissue. "Who's singing behind me?" I asked her, choking on my own tears. I was afraid to look, afraid that the answer would be "no one". Afraid that I was the only one hearing my grandfather's voice in warm sanctuary.

"My uncle," she whispered.

Later, after the service, I explained to H~ why I was crying, and her uncle very sweetly apologized. (As if he had anything to be sorry for!)

It made me wonder, though...if because of J~'s closeness to the 'other side' - if those souls who are waiting to welcome him aren't a little bit closer to all of us now? Is that crazy?

This morning I got into my car to drive to work, and I plugged in my Zune and hit "play all".

There are about 3000 songs on my music player, and as the strains of "Keep on the Sunny Side" started to fill my ears, I was taken back.

I had forgotten the song was even ON my Zune.

But my grandpa sang that song often. Sometimes accompanied by his banjo, more usually by his guitar.

I thought maybe he was trying to tell me something...maybe he was trying to tell me, "everything will be all right" or that J~ is going to be fine (in the grand scheme of things). Perhaps that I shouldn't dwell too long in the dark grief that threatens to pull me in.

As the song came to an end, I hit repeat, and I swear I felt him telling me not to worry.

But THEN, as if I needed more evidence...something happened.

My grandpa's passion, aside from singing, was restoring old cars. Model T's, Model A's, that sort of thing. One of the last cars he began to restore, but did not finish because of his death - was a bright canary yellow Ford pick-up truck, circa 1940-something.

I have rarely seen anything like it, but this morning, as I drove towards work, a bright canary yellow Ford pickup truck with historic plates pulled out right in front of me, as the strains of Keep on the Sunny Side continued to play.

I don't know that I have ever received a clearer message.

I'll try to keep it close to my heart.

Though the storm and its furies rage today
Crushing hope that we cherish so dear
The cloud and storm will in time pass away
And the sun again will shine bright and clear

* Keep On The Sunny Side, The Whites (originally recorded by the Carter Family, lyrics by Ada Blenkhorn)

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