When she first left I felt this sense of relief. I really hate to admit that. What kind of person feels better when someone they love leaves? But at that initial moment that is what I felt. The news came and I felt relief. As if you had been holding your breathe for a long time and you finally stop and you can breathe again. For a brief moment I felt relief because it was over. It had all ended. We could all stop holding our breath. As a family we could all take a nice, deep breath and savor how good it feels. Expansion of the lungs, good air in, bad air out.
The feeling of relief was not one that lasted forever. It really didn't even last for a day. It was brief. May have only been for a minute or two. Reality sunk in. Then I cried. I broke down and sobbed because everything that I knew was going to happen had happened. The end had come and now I had to really deal with it. I just wasn't sure how to. I wanted to leave but I couldn't go, I had to sit and process a little more. I called and talked to my dad. Who has always been a talker. He likes to sit and talk to you about everything and anything. He has stories that are relevant to whatever you may be going through. And when I called he was able to help me. He told me how he had already come to terms with everything. He had already cried about it. So, when he got the call he was prepared. Wish I had been as calm about it all but I wasn't. My mind was focusing on a work trip that I really wanted to take for the purely selfish reason of getting away from the gray cloud that had surrounded the family. I wanted to leave everything behind for a week. I didn't want to have to think about my grandmother being sick. Having to watch her move from hospital to nursing home to hospital. Watching her become frail. I didn't want to have to deal with it all. But life forced me to.
With a small feeling of calm and fake strength I began the week. I had become more involved with the dealings of my grandmother's passing away. More so than I actually wanted to. Before she passed I had gone to the cemetery to make arrangements. I had to decide what was to be written on her head stone and etc. I had just come from the cemetery Friday paying for the arrangements. The lady there said to me that she hoped she wouldn't see me again soon. My grandmother passed away the next day. I was back at the cemetery on Monday to bring a payment to my uncles.
The rest of the week seemed to just crawl by. But each day that I got up I felt better. Tuesday was not as bad as Monday and Wednesday was not as bad as Tuesday and so on. I didn't feel the need to cry as the week progressed. I was adjusting. By Friday I was feeling ok. I went with my aunt and cousins to the funeral home to view my grandmother before the wake later that evening. They did a good job but to me it didn't look like my grandmother. To me it looked like a wax figure of my grandmother. She didn't look real. It was the body double of my grandmother in the casket and my real grandmother was at her house, sitting on the side of her bed, smoking a cigarette and watching TV. But unfortunately that was her; there in one of her many church outfits.
The wake was great. I was good. I felt fine. I sat with my mom and greeted those who came to show their condolences and watched my aunt as she worked the room. She made sure to talk to everyone and thank them for coming. Then Saturday came and it was time for the funeral. All the family met at my grandparent's house. My cousins and I laughed, joked and took pictures before we all piled in to limos to be driven to the church. We could have walked. The church is just right around the corner from the house, but there is protocol for this sort of thing. The church was packed.
Our family squeezed together on a few pews and I ended up sitting on the pew that my grandmother would sit in every Sunday. The same seat that me and my cousin (who was next to me on that day) had to sit in next to her. Where she gave us peppermints and fussed at us to stay awake or to stop playing. We were both right back in that spot that she would bring us to until we were old enough to sit where we wanted or to go to a different church. I stayed at that church but my cousin she went elsewhere. But I got through the funeral fine. I was fine out at the cemetery. I was focused a little on the fact that my heels kept sinking into the dirt. I can distract myself easily. But I got through the fact that I knew my grandmother was going to be lowered into the ground. I was fine. I was strong. But I couldn't wrap my mind around why all my family kept asking me if I was ok. Why would they keep asking me that? They lost her too. I didn't just lose somebody, we all did.
Then Sunday came. I got up just like I did on most Sundays and proceeded to get dressed for church. As I was leaving the house my sister was sitting in the living room no light on, no tv and no cellphone. Just her sitting in the room...quiet. She was sitting there thinking about how all this happened to our grandmother. How come the doctors didn't catch anything sooner? I told her to stop thinking about it and I left. As I drove to the church something came over me. The closer I got to the church the worse it got. By time I got into the church parking lot I was a wreck. I was crying uncontrollably. I could not walk into that place and my grandmother not be in there. It just didn't seem right. I called my mom who was at work, who called my dad and he and my uncle came to check on me. My mom told me that I had to go into church because if I didn't go it would be just as hard the next time. After I was calm my dad walked me in and I got through church but it was hard because I kept looking at her pew and she wasn't there. I had to try to redirect my focus to keep myself from crying again.
I didn't see that one coming but my family did. When I told my mom about the family asking how I was doing she explained to me that I was a little closer to my grandmother, so that was the reason for their concern. I never thought that my relationship with my grandmother was that much different from everyone else's but I guess it was. I was her baby and I felt like she was a protector for me. What I couldn't say for myself my grandmother usually could. She looked out for me and still is doing so. After the breakdown outside of church I would go sporadically. It was still hard for me to attend. It was even harder for me to go to the cemetery but after some time I did. I talked to her and explained how I was having trouble going to church. Not that I was expecting a real solution to come but I just felt the need to say it.
The next day I got a call from the church secretary asking if I could help out in the office temporarily while the other church secretary was out. I agreed. This meant that I had to be there every Sunday. I had to be more involved. Something my grandmother wanted me to do anyway. So she helped me solve that problem. A little quicker than I imagined. All I could do was laugh because she got me and got her way. Even now with it being almost a year later it is still hard to think about. She was the center of the family. I still have to get use to her not being here. Not being just a phone call away or sitting there when I come to her house. But I know that she is looking over us. And that is a good feeling.