Monday, December 5, 2011

Excuse me while I get emotional...

Excuse me if I end up rambling and not making much sense or repeating myself at all the further into the post you get. I'm a bit emotional and I can't really get my thoughts and words to cooperate with one another for the sake of being articulate. I need to write this out and emotions are messy, ugly things sometimes which I'm sure will be reflected in this rambling post. Anyway...

I was talking to a friend yesterday about Christmas type stuff. She asked me how my blog's fundraiser was coming along and I admitted it hadn't gone as well as the first two years. I wondered in part if that's because I just wasn't putting as much effort into it as I had the previous two years but that's not the case. Though, I almost didn't do it this year because when I thought about it, it seemed like I might not be able to get into the spirit of doing it. But, I'm glad I did because it's given me something good to focus on and doing it really does make me so happy and I needed something to be happy about during the holiday season. I love helping people and through this, a lot of families will get help during their financially rough holiday season. (Which by the way, there are only 11 days left to donate
to the Toys for Tots fundraiser.) That conversation led us to the topic of presents for our friends and loved ones. We were talking about what we planned to get our families and in my case what I had already gotten for mine since I'm almost done with my gift shopping already. I really just wanted to get it over with and out of the way with as quickly as possible. Then we started talking house decorations and such. I started thinking about how this would be my first Christmas without Grandpa here. I forgot what I said exactly but it was something to do with decorations and my grandparents house.

Which caused this response from my friend....

"You know, you still always refer to it as your grandparent's house or your grandma and grandpa's place, right? But it's been almost 6 months since he died, don't you think you should just refer to it as your grandma's house by now?"

And the thing is, she wasn't trying to be rude or an ass. She was just asking because she was generally curious if I realized I still did that. And I hadn't really realized that because it was just the way I phrased it out of habit. She didn't even realize it might be an insensitive thing to say until I started crying. Then she was freaking out, apologizing and then crying herself because she felt so bad. She's never had anyone close to her die before. Her worse experience with death so far in life has been having to say goodbye to a few goldfishes before.

Maybe I should stop referring to it as "their" house but I don't. I still think of it as their house even though he passed away this summer. They lived there before I was born. It was their house long before I was even thought of, before my parents even knew each other. That's the house I spent many weekends, Spring Breaks, weeks at a time during Summer break and so on and so forth in. It's a place I grew up at and a place I spent a lot of time at. And it was "their" house for my entire life up until this passed June when he passed away, in that house. I spent 25 years spending time in that house and I've always referred to it as "grandma and grandpa's house" or "my grandparents house" and I cant seem to wrap my head around getting myself to think of it differently, even though he's been gone for almost half a year.

When I go visit my grandma, I say just that, that I'm going to visit her. It's not like I haven't accepted he's gone. It would be hard to be in denial about that after seeing his lifeless body at his viewing. I understand he's gone. I go visit my grandma and I still see so much of him there. Pictures, his chair, his room, his bed and tons of other things I've always associated with him. It's hard not to think of it as "their" home when there's sill so much of him there, including the urn that has his ashy remains in them, lol.

A few people told me the holidays would be hard. I thought that it would be difficult but I didn't really understand how it would feel. I got mad at myself on Thanksgiving because I found myself standing in my aunt's kitchen cooking and wishing he would be there to eat the macaroni and cheese I was making from scratch because he liked it so much. I almost cried while I was standing there melting the cheeses because I just missed him so much at that moment and wished he could be there for it. Then I was angry at myself for being upset because I sometimes feel like it shouldn't hurt so much still. And even though I know that's silly, I was grateful for that because I hate crying in front of people and that anger at myself kept me from bawling into the mac and cheese in front of my family. And I was happy for that for another reason; because it was my grandmother and my mom and my aunts and he was their father and they weren't crying. Maybe they wanted to but they were holding it together and making the best of the day even though I knew my grandmother was hurting horribly. I didn't want to be the one that set everyone else into a depressing mood or a crying fit.

Now as it's Christmas this and Christmas that all over the place, it's hard. I look at the Christmas tree we have in our living room and I remember the last cute little tree they had at their house and I wonder if my grandma will even bother with putting one up this year. I wonder if she'll stay with my mom and aunt or my other aunt for a few days so she doesn't have to be alone on the holiday. I thought about how I wouldn't have to get him any of the things he always wanted every year for Christmas but when I go somewhere and see any one of his favorite things, I wish I had a reason to buy any or all of them still. It hurts in such a deep aching way and sometimes, I don't know how to deal with it. I feel grateful that he's gone because he's not suffering in any way any longer. I want to laugh and smile because I feel so lucky to have had him around for so long, to have had such a good relationship with him, for him caring so much for us and for the good memories I have with him. And
I want to cry because I miss him and it hurts that he's not around anymore.

I remember Christmas when I was 10. We lived in this two story house that had a tiny little front porch on it that held two chairs. My grandpa always sat outside on the porch for a while. He liked to just sit out there and watch the world go by and think. I remember that year I sat outside with him in a Tasmanian Devil t-shirt, a hideously ugly jacket that I thought was awesome at the time and track pants with a Santa hat on and asked him why he liked sitting outside so much when it was so cold. He said being outside was calming, relaxing. It was quiet and there was just nature and his thoughts if he wanted to think or reflect. Being out in the open air, seeing the trees, the grass and smelling those things was a nice place to be. I remember pointing out that it was icy and cold and you couldn't really smell anything besides cold. He laughed and asked me what I thought cold smelled like. I said ice cubes and he did a little half smile and agreed with me. Then I just sat out there with him for a long time and didn't say anything else until we went in to eat.

And it's memories like those that I try to focus on right now because I have plenty of good memories of him. And plenty of great ones from all the Christmases he was around for. The thing about focusing on the happy times though is knowing you'll never have more like them but trying to be thankful and happy that you had them in the first place. I often end up sad whilst thinking of good memories of him I have just because it makes me miss him. Sometimes I end up crying and a times it's out of pain and sadness, other times it's more of a happy yet bittersweet feeling.

Death is such a weird fucking thing to deal with.


KendallJaye said...

Biggest of hugs to you. I remember the first Christmas after my husband's Nana died. We all had spots we sat in for passing out presents. Same spots. It never changed. There was a big empty spot on the couch where Nana sat. And no one would sit there. It took several years before anyone would sit on that corner of the couch. Time, it turns out, really is the greatest balm. Warmest of wishes to you and the fam this holiday.

Jack and Jill said...

"I remember that year I sat outside with him in a Tasmanian Devil t-shirt, a hideously ugly jacket that I thought was awesome at the time and track pants with a Santa hat on..." Yeah, I was awkward when I was ten. ;)

Your friend's comment does come off rude, but having friends who might say the exact same thing I understand where it came from. You say that she asked "because she was generally curious if I realized I still did that." Why wouldn't you, though? Your grandpa passed away such a short time ago; you're obviously much more used to the idea of the house as both of theirs than just your grandma's. There's a good chance that you will always think of the house as belonging to your grandparents, and not solely your grandmother. That's understandable. You say "I cant seem to wrap my head around getting myself to think of it differently, even though he's been gone for almost half a year." But half a year is nothing. Six months is akin to the blink of an eye in comparison to a lifetime. My last grandparent - my dad's mom - died more than eleven years ago. The family sold the house that she and her husband (her second husband, not my dad's dad, but a man I still gladly considered my grandfather) lived in probably a year or so after she passed away. To this day, whenever I happen to pass the house, I note (even in my head) that it's my grandparents' house.

I remember the first Christmas after my grandfather passed away, and how hard it was for my grandmother. Wow - that was nineteen years ago. It was hard for her, but nowhere near as hard as the first Christmas after she passed away was for all of us. My parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and I still miss her. We probably always will. Our family isn't as tight-knit as it was when she was alive, and it makes me sad. We know how hard the holidays - and indeed the first year - can be when someone you love passes away, and I can only imagine how difficult it is for your grandma given the lifetime she spent with him. Thank you very much for sharing your memories of your grandfather. It's clear how much he meant to you.


Osbasso said...

You're not experiencing anything that you shouldn't. My dad died just over a year ago, but my sisters and I talk about having dinner at "Mom & Dad's". The last of my grandparents died about 8 years ago, yet every once in awhile, I swear I see her driving down the street.

Keep those Christmas memories fresh in your head for as long as you possibly can. And if you shed a tear from time to time, don't feel embarrassed or upset. Just shows that you're normal like the rest of us! :-)

Mrs. Learning said...

I struggle at Christmas time a lot. It's usually not a great time for me emotionally but I am trying to keep up a positive stance since now I have a child.

I just want to say that you for sharing your memory of your grandfather. It was like I was watching you when you were 10 like the way you described it and how wonderful that it must have been to have that moment with him. Keep those moments alive :)

Sometimes people don't get it about houses. Just because they passed it doesn't mean that it's still not their house.

Keep your head up girl and loved the post.

Jack and Jill said...

Jack said everything I wanted to say, but better. My grandmother died three years ago, and it still hurts, in part because her death was very sudden and tragic, and none of us got a chance to say good-bye to her. My grandmother and I were very close, as close as it sounds like you and your grandpa were. When I miss her, which is very often, I think about the wonderful memories of great times we spent together. It helps.


Dangerous Lilly said...

I have this feeling that if you were to refer to it as your grandma's place in earshot of said grandma...she wouldn't like it. Just because he's gone now doesn't make it any less of "his". My grandparents have been gone 10 years now and I still refer to their place as their place. Even though my mom owns it and has been renting it out now for nearly that long.

It would really only make sense to change your phrasing if she moved out and into her own place.

viemoira said...

I think it has been 4 years now since I lost my papa. I get upset at Thanksgiving still remebering eating cold turkey and salt with him as a late snack.

lil said...

My father passed away a year and a half ago, so I get where you're coming from here.

Death is a very weird thing to deal with. It seems like it's impact on us goes through phases of evolution that are totally unpredictable.
Holidays are hard. Birthdays are hard. Moments you wouldn't think are somehow hard...But as time goes by wounds do turn into scars. They don't go away, but I do believe they become slightly easier to deal with.

Remember the people you had, enjoy the ones you have, and hang in there.