14 December 2009

Long December

"A long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were leaving
Oh the days go by so fast."

Counting Crows, Long December

* * *

Big A's great-grandmother passed away last week and today, in an old church in a small town, I attended her funeral.

I went to pay my respects to her fathers' family and, honestly, to see how Big A was processing, or not processing, her grief.

It wasn't until about two hours before the service that the knot in my stomach set in. The last funeral I'd attended in an old church was my grandfather's.

When I'm in public places and it's not appropriate to tap my chest or rub my neck, instead I move my feet incessantly, crossing my legs, rolling my ankles. In order to breathe, I need to be moving.

* * *

The thought of this Christmas almost paralyzes me; my grandfather gone. With absolute certainty, I know that everyone else feels his loss deeply as well; it is a testament to the man that he was.

It's just that sometimes I wonder if anyone else in the room is feeling the same way I am, if they are finding themselves walking down the aisles of grocery stores and suddenly, a memory, a scent and instantly the loss is so crushing that their next breath is painful.

If they are faking their way through smiles and politeness and days while choking back sobs when his blue eyes and distinct laughter come to mind?

* * *

I've always been like this; always felt a little off from the rest of the world; it's why writing here has been such a relief to me--to know that elsewhere there were people that as children were consumed with thoughts about the animals lying on the side of the road, moths with broken wings, the lives of the most deprived and tormented at school.

It's a blanket of comfort to know that other parents might find it perfectly acceptable that the loss of the last of baby fat might render you stunned; to find kinship among the world, people that feel the same, think the same, people that understand when I say sometimes I feel consumed with how fast this life is passing me by.

"Why would you even think about that," he said when I told him that what was wrong was that I couldn't get my mind off that little girl in Florida.

"How do you not think about that?" I asked.

* * *

Big A and Little A are vastly different when it comes to expressing their emotions. Big A boxes hers up and stores them away, Little A wears them on her sleeves and thinks nothing of suddenly changing topics from laughter to stating, "I miss Smoosh. I miss Jessie. I miss my grandpa up the hill." When she does this, Big A hardens and hisses at her.

I've tried talking to Big A about expressing emotions, but she comes by this compression honestly. Her dad openly admits he doesn't do this easily. I am relieved, to many ends that she has someone so similar to her.

The other day when I was driving, I glanced back at Little A. She was staring up at the clouds, her lips moving, her little pointer finger weaving magic at the world passing by. My heart ached; the thought of that dreamy life, what it might mean for her.

I don't want her dropping to her knees someday to grieve my loss, shattering glasses, staring out windows, weeping in showers.

* * *

"What's going on?" Big A asked me, about a month ago as I was standing at the kitchen sink with tears quietly streaming down my face.

"I miss Grandpa so much," I replied.

"Mom". It wasn't a question, it wasn't an annoyance, it wasn't her mocking me. It was a simple statement, like she could finally see me for me and loved me anyway.

* * *

And here we are, back to December. Back to an old church, a funeral in a small town, snow falling outside.

All in all, Big A did well. Following the service, her grandmother noted that Big A seemed to take it harder than any of them; she had barely wept. Her dad hugged her and said he knew it was hard to be sad around his family.

Part of me was relieved.

Mostly the part of me that walked out to my car, put my head on the steering wheel and wept about a man that I loved beyond words, a red truck traveling down a dirt road, a Christmas without him, a loss I cannot express.

I was tapping my chest as I drove away.

* * *


Anonymous said...

No, Jennifer, you are not the only one. Just probably the only one to say it.

Little A comes by it honestly, just like Big A.

Your Aunt

Jennifer said...

There are definitely others that feel the same way...I am one of those people. Little things trigger memories for me. I also wear my feelings on my sleeve so I can relate to Little A and to you. It's ok to be sad. It's good to be sad. Of course I am sorry you are sad...and I won't tell you it gets easier. I don't think it does. I just think we learn to deal with it. Holidays are always harder. I'll be thinking about you this Christmas.

Mama Goose said...

No, You are not alone And I can't tell you how much it means to me when you write what I try to say...

Almost 5 years later, I still grieve the loss of my mother. "How do you not think about that" is ever present... Triggers are everywhere. I wish I could be happy instead of sad... I don't want to cry every time the boys ask about her... I don't want them not to ask... I vow to deal with it better in 2010...

luckyzmom said...


flutter said...

I'm here, holding your hand.