Recognizing That This Is The Last Time

When you’re little, there are birthdays and anniversaries and holidays, but then people grow up, drift, and move away. Suddenly, it’s been ten years since you’ve clapped eyes on them. That’s where the big celebrations like marriages and funerals come in.

I understood the concept of funerals getting everyone near and dear together to help the family grieve, but what I didn’t understand, prior to my grandmother’s death was that this is the last party that is just for her. It’s the last party where you can talk all about her without seeming like a crazy person or stuck in the past. It’s the last time that you can demand of everyone you know to share a memory.

My sister and I always joke that our Dad, Aunt and Uncles always give hour long speeches at every family function. But instead of preparing to grin and bear my way through pages upon pages of dry retold family stories and hokey Dad-jokes, on the day of, I found myself wishing for more. Because this was the last time; there would be no more birthday celebrations with Grandma holding court in a funny birthday hat while her children reminisced behind a podium, and her grandchildren not so patiently listened. This was the last of the protracted speeches about my grandmother’s thriftiness. As my oldest Uncle stepped down and finished his speech, I longed to hear more.

Luckily, my cousin had challenged her Dad to share some untold stories about our beloved matriarch. My Aunt did the same- I learned that my grandmother had been a secretary when she was younger. I grabbed hold of these small new pearls of information about my grandma and held them close, turning them over in my mind as they revealed previously unknown facets of the woman I loved and admired so much. My own story was deemed inappropriate for the funeral, so I sang instead.

It was a feat for me to perform- I’ve lived several lives since the time when I pretended to be a musician and aquamarine pleather pants were a staple of my wardrobe. It took all of my focus to stand up and follow along with the music. The song ended and I was swept away in a deluge of grief.

I was crying in earnest when I returned to my seat. My cousin Candy reached over and held me in a hug, from behind I felt another cousin squeeze my shoulder. In that moment, I was transported to all of the times that my little cousins and I crouched underneath my grandmother’s pool table, hiding during a family game of sardines. I thought about how magical it was that we had all those memories together, that Grandma was the linchpin of it all. In that brief group embrace was the love of decades.

My entire life, I have lived in a big family. And for my entire life, my Grandma loved and gathered all of us together, she accepted us for who we were and that in turn fostered a culture of tolerance and support in my family. As a weirdo who has always marched to the beat of my own drum, I have depended on this unconditional love for the confidence to be myself.

Through my sadness, I marveled at what an incredible achievement it is to have a person’s life be a legacy of love and acceptance. That no matter what, our family had this one last time together to appreciate what an incredible woman my grandmother was. Then I sat and listened to who my Grandma was to each of my cousins; sports fan, role model, drill sergeant. All the while, I wished for one more story, one more prayer, one more song to remember and celebrate her life, because this was the last time.

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But I Like Iced Tea

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Or that’s the idea at least, but other times life starts relentlessly pelting you with lemons until you cry “Oh please stop!”. At which point Life switches fruits and slams you with one Granny Smith after another “How do you like these apples?” Life asks in a menacing way. “I don’t like those apples” you cry helplessly, “I don’t like them at all” So Life rears back and snarls “Then have some more lemons!” And you whimper while Life grinds lemon juice into your cuts and bruises.

Life can be a bit of a dick sometimes. But then again so can I, so really I can’t blame Life that much. However that doesn’t prevent me from crying quietly over my lemon juice marinated wounds.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m at a fork in the road. Generally I only recognize these branching spots after I’ve passed them, getting too caught up in the difficulty of the situation to notice the major change occurring in the scenery of my world. My previous forks were precipitated or possibly occurred while life pelted me with various flora and whatever else it could find.

A large part of me wants to huddle with my hurts and wait for the storm to pass.There’s an ease in that, in closing one’s eyes and holding your breath, willing the storm to pass. It means relinquishing all but a little control, and giving into the currents of life, landing where it drops you. In previous years, I’ve chosen this option.

There’s another way too. To duck your head for a moment, find your bearings, and decide on a route rather than letting the path take you. Choosing this method takes bravery and a certain amount of foolhardiness. After all, even the best of plans fail sometimes.

Regardless, the dividing of roads is cause for reflection. Neither curling in on oneself, nor striking out against the howling winds of change can avoid that outcome.

Loss and Lost

Normally I do my best to create paragraphs that fit together and have a bit of humour added in. They’re written a safe distance from my true self, never venturing towards the rambling, disjointed, personal words which I put in my journal. I know bloggers can be that personal but I’ve never been comfortable with it. However, occasionally events happen that leave you so confused and hurt that only disjointed, personal sentence fragments are left.

My netbook was stolen this week. On Monday an anonymous man on a bicycle swiped my little writing machine from my car. I know this because I was shown the footage form the security cameras. On that computer was my nearly edited book and every piece of writing I had produced for the last three and a half years.

I mourned. I’m still mourning, every word that I didn’t put out to the world, all of the ideas that I kept in there for myself, the book that I had almost finished editing. All of it gone.

These past couple of days I tried to put words together, to push myself through the pain of my loss and be a clown but I couldn’t. There weren’t any words, I couldn’t find a place to start.

I’m sad and disappointed and angry at myself for leaving the possession I love most because it has so much of me in it, in a place where it could be taken. I’m frustrated that I never actually followed through with backing up my words on Google Drive or a separate device.

Part of me is glad though, that I thought to release my work to the greater world, that I put so much of what I loved and was proud of, up for the internet to see. That all of those words are still there.Eventually, when the initial pain of my loss has worn off, I know I will be more grateful for this and recognize how much content was saved in my one hundred and fifty posts. But for now, all I can see are the files I had yet to edit, the words I sweated over but hadn’t published, and all of the pieces I wrote just to write them. Those are the only paragraphs in my head at this moment.