The Beauty of Death
I have been absent from the blog. From everything online, to be perfectly honest.
Last week, my grandmother passed away.
On Wednesday, I wrote her eulogy. I did so outside of a Starbucks, letting the wind ripple the page on which I was writing.
On Thursday, with support of my family and Chris standing behind me in case I couldn't get through it, I delivered that eulogy.
On Friday, we took the kids to school and, that night, went to a concert for which we'd already purchased tickets.
Over the weekend, we trick-or-treated at the zoo, did some errands, and I finalized my submissions for the 35 Under 35 call and started a load of laundry.
This is what life is.
I debated about sharing all of this on the blog but finally couldn't think of a good reason not to.
I think we are so conditioned to compartmentalize our lives - to keep "business as business" and "personal as personal". The way we experience life, however, is far more blended. Suffering over loss doesn't stop simply because a report needs to be done or blog post typed.
Beyond the compartmentalization, we are often encouraged (if only subtly) to keep certain emotions and feelings under wraps....or at least Appropriately Expressed. We aren't sure how to handle one another's pain (because we don't know how to handle our own), so the sharing of stories of the "dark side" of life are terse and limited. (On the other extreme, stories are focused on, over and over, so that life seems nothing but pain.)
I have grown into an ability to walk through the fire (with only the occasional burn). I purposefully feel deep emotion but I do not cling to it. In this way, I understand but do not get lost. But it also leaves me in a unique silence. Many do not understand the walking-through of pain. Most seem to either avoid it or to get caught up in it.
I share this because I want you, my dear reader, to understand that what I share is my processing. I am not wandering in the dark as this might suggest, but I did visit. And if only one of you understands this state of being, sharing what I found in the dark will be worth it. Best case, I reach someone who needs re-minded (put back in the mind-state of). We do not need to avoid these feelings nor do we need to wallow in them.
That being said, wherever you may be, you are right where you need to be.
For me, for you - I offer a glimpse into my journal and the thoughts I walk through while baking 28 cupcakes for my son's class party:
There's nothing quite like being in a funeral procession.
Police escort through red lights, passing other drivers & passengers wondering if they are pissed at being delayed (oh - thank god - its only a short one...) or
if something in them pulls
reminds them of death
or of the funeral procession they were in
and do they see me?
tears in my eyes or a stony gaze - what do they think? What do I want them to?
And grandma, looking on, how does she feel about leading this parade? Too much fanfare? Not enough?
This wild woman, this leader, this pioneer who took off for New York when midwestern girls just didn't do such a thing - what would she think of the number of people who came to honor her final physical presence above ground?
Or of the granddaughter who read her eulogy, of the meaning behind it, of those who cried and those who didn't?
The chisel-cut hole beneath her grave, walls like a thick chocolate cake.
Not as deep as I thought it would be.
She's in there. The person I promised I'd talk to again shortly - she's locked up in that well-decorated box. Is she resting peacefully?
One more hole, one more body.
Those final moments when breath kissed her lips.
Those final moments when her skin saw sky.
Those final moments when her body remained above ground.
As if one more promise, more more second together....
The casket disappeared from my view behind a tree with Chris' foot on the accelerator and our daughter's question of "Where are we going now?" hanging in the air.
May you walk through whatever pain resides in your life. I offer my hand for the journey.