Saying goodbye

It’s been a crazy couple of days and I haven’t had any time to write about my Grandmother’s funeral. But there are certain things I’d like to remember about it, so I’m carving out a couple of minutes to make it happen (in actuality, a bunch of minutes spread out over the whole freaking DAY! Thus the somewhat scattered post).

It’s about a two hour drive up to where they live and Anya wailed all but 20 minutes of the ride there and pretty much the whole way back. So my nerves were a little frayed by the time we arrived at the church. Lily, mostly because of the wailing, hadn’t had a nap all day so she was slightly insane throughout. Overall, my kids made the whole experience that much more stressful, but I cannot blame them. They are, after all, sensitive beings and probably were feeding off the stress I was already feeling.

We arrived a couple of hours early hoping that we’d get a chance to relax, eat and get Lily to nap (ha!). The church had been kind enough to set their youth group room aside as a family room for all of us traveling in from out of town. On the wall someone had scrawled this across the white board: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” My first response was to think, “Unless you’re spending two hours trapped in a car with a screaming infant… then it’s ALL about the destination.” But it was so fitting for why we had all come together. We weren’t there to celebrate Grandma’s death; we were there to rejoice in the life she shared with us. I put those words into my head and tried to just breathe for a moment.

One aunt and her daughter and granddaughter showed up shortly after we arrived. I am not close to these people at all. They kept calling me Elena. A nice enough name, just not mine. They are overly dramatic people at times and I sat listening to my cousin telling her mom about how her boyfriend didn’t want her to come because he feared she’d “freak out” when she saw Grandma laid out in the coffin. Um, did she know this woman at all? Grandma would NEVER allow an open casket. Period. She wanted to be cremated and that’s what was gonna happen. No viewing. Good enough for me, thanks!

People kept showing up and after a short time my Grandfather arrived and started saying his hello’s. He looked tired, sad, older than I remembered him from only a few weeks before, thinner and like the world had just shattered a little bit. Heck, his wife of 63 years had died, the world DID shatter. When I got my chance to greet him he pulled me in for a hug and instinctually my hand went up to stroke the back of his head, something I do with my girls when they are distraught. With my head right next to his I heard a little whimper escape him, like a sob caught in his throat. We didn’t let go for what felt like a long time and I felt something inside of me snap loose and let go; all the stress from the day went away and I just found myself in this moment with Grandpa, just trying to support. I told him how thrilled I was that Anya got to meet her and he agreed, both of us a bit teary.

My brother was there and it was so good to get a chance to talk with him after not seeing him for… I don’t know, a long time. Unfortunately his wife and son were not able to come and I was so disappointed to miss out on a chance to see my growing nephew. But Matt was there and that meant so much to Grandpa, my mom and to me.

When it was time to head into the service, Lily lead the way, thrilled with the rows of chairs, the stained glass and the beautiful flower arrangements. She went and sniffed them all despite the fact that they were up in front of the whole congregation. She was simply delighted. She was also very tired, so she didn’t last through the opening greeting. Mark had to take her back to the family room so I could pay attention to the service and my family. Anya stayed in the sling and slept most of the time.

Several people eulogized Grandma, but I only really knew one of them (and not that well). Fred has been a part of their lives for years and is one of the guys my Grandfather goes out to movies and dinner with on a regular basis. He talked about how Grandma was, “Kind and stubborn. Generous and stubborn. Open hearted and stubborn.” I watched my grandfather laughing and I started to cry. Seeing my tears falling onto my daughter’s sweet sleepy head… that made me cry more. But I was happy watching Grandpa smile as his friends remembered Grandma. It was good.

The reception was nice with some lovely food and a chance to talk to all the family and friends. We did a bunch of group shots of the different generations, although by that point Lily was losing it and refused to be in most of the pictures. I was reaching the end of my rope as well and so we headed for home.

If you are so inclined, you can see a couple of pictures by clicking the photo of Lily below. They aren’t very exciting unless you know the people, but there they are.

I also wanted to say thank you to all the support my blogging posse has given me during this time. It’s been so comforting to have you in my life and though I feel like the world is still a little too big, I know I have strong hands holding me safe. I know it’ll just keep getting better and I have you all to thank for reminding me of this.

Lily checking out some of the flowers