Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"See you later..."

I got the text about twenty minutes before the end of my shift.

"My grandma just passed."

Instantly the tears welled up and with it a disgust that I didn't expect. Disgust over being tethered to a desk. I wanted to walk out. Unplug. Leave.

When my shift finally ended I got in the car and locked the doors and let out a noise that was foreign even to myself. A mix of a sigh, a scream, a surrender. A mix of anger and sadness. A slight sense of relief, for her.


You were one of the few people I admired. I can't explain why, though there are plenty of reasons but what are reasons if nothing more than a list of traits and you were more than that.

You handled me in a way that few people ever have. Sometimes, if the wine was right and we had just enough alone time, you would pull out of me things I would seldom talk to anybody about. My father, my parents, my fears about marriages and parenthood and sometimes my selfish disdain for both of those things. You pulled them out of me and didn't suggest a solution, only acknowledgement. And that was all I needed.

Few people know that.


I raced home as fast I could. I wasn't sure why I was pushing the speed limit, why my arms were going numb, why my hands were shaking. She was gone. There was nothing to outrace. And looking back on it this morning, I think I was just angry. I was so damn angry I hadn't been around more. Angry that I slept, ate, bathed, watched a movie, listened to music while she was a couple miles away. I was angry that life still relentlessly moves on while others simultaneously stop. Soon life will move on and I don't think I'll be as angry. This seems like something she would tell me, so I keep telling this to myself.


I'll always remember this one afternoon. You were feeling particularly well and wanted to take Jack to the zoo. I was slightly worried, I wasn't sure you would have the energy to fully enjoy an outing in our Tucson heat and Jack's sometimes juggernaut approach to life. But you maintained that all was well.

We walked around and took our time.

Before we left we visited the gift shop which I told you to ignore because it was overpriced. But you didn't listen. You were dead set on buying Jack not only a stuffed animal elephant but a giraffe companion for it as well as a book that made jungle noises. You have spoiled Jack since his birth. We have jokingly dubbed him "little prince" because of you. Because of the esteem with which you have held him since he was nothing more than holdable. The love that you have had for him is one of the things that I believe I'll miss the most.

We took a train ride around the park. Jack pointed out everything and we soaked in the spring sun. After we grew tired of the park we went to a Mexican restaurant downtown and I was so excited to bring you over to my stomping ground. Once again I was letting you in more than most people. The margarita was just right and the beer was to your liking and the afternoon, that afternoon, was perfect. It took weeks for Jack to stop talking about it. He still brings it up from time to time.


"Are you okay?"
"Yeah. You?"
"We just have to remember all the good things."
"I know."
"And this is a good thing. It would have gotten worse, harder, uglier."
"I know."

The last time I saw you was at Greg's birthday dinner. You were in the back. Your daughter was there talking to you and I came in to say hello. And as soon as I sat down that old familiar comfort set in.

"You look great."
"That dress is lovely."

I like that we can both appreciate the aesthetics in life. Even when life is not so grand. Some people would call us shallow for it but we know better.

"How are you?"
"How's the job? How are you doing, I know you don't like it very much."
"Yeah. It's tough but I guess that's being a grown up right?"

I think you smiled at that because you've watched me struggle so hard against the practicalities of being an adult.

"But, you know, I'd rather be busy than bored. It's better that way. Even though it's hard sometimes."
"Of course!"
"My mind gets too idle and I start to unravel..."
"I know."

And before we start to turn our quick "hello" into another therapy session the dinner bell has rung. You won't be joining us, you are not well enough. Knowing that made the walk to the dinner table one of the longest I've had in awhile. My boots clicking on the tile was an assault to my ears and the further away I knew they were getting hurt somewhere in my rib cage.

"Love you."
"Love you too."
"See you later."


Greg and Jack had their last visit with you a couple days ago. I was at work on a Sunday. Again.

"...even though it's hard sometimes."

I'm glad Jack got to see you. I wish I could have.

But mostly I wish I had gotten to say thank you.

Thank you for accepting me, even though there are traits in myself that are sometimes unacceptable. Thank you for refilling my glass and my hope. Thank you for having such good taste and for feeling the music and the nuances. Thank you for your children. Thank you for loving Jack.

I hope that wherever you are going has plenty of pinot grigio and sunlight at your feet. I hope there are elephants with giraffe companions. I hope your son is there. I hope that you left knowing that I loved you. Always.

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories; They're all that's left you


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Eva said...

this is a beautiful tribute.

Alicia said...

You brought a tear to my eye. More than one, actually.

Adriana said...

i am so sorry for your loss sweetie. this post was beautiful and the song a perfect choice.

Maggie May said...

I'm sorry you lost your grandma. I really enjoyed reading about your relationship with her.

flyrish said...

She sounded like an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing your bond with her here so beautifully. Thinking of you and your family.

Momma Kitty said...

What a beautiful post-- a great tribute to a lady who clearly meant so much to you. May your memories of her continue to be strong and full of happiness and hope.

Molly said...

Really, really fabulous post.

I'm so sorry.

Althea said...

Thank you for sharing this ,and her with us. The goodness of her heart and soul will live on through the memories you share and through those you hold close. Take care. Squeeze your loves close. Always.