Wednesday, February 27, 2013

grief.

{photo by Jared Pemberton}

Two weeks ago, in the middle of Jordan's regularly scheduled winter cold, Galentine's Day plans, and out-of-town company prep, we found out Jordan's grandfather had been rushed to the ER in north Alabama. He wasn't doing well. 

I cried in the middle of Target, because all of this feels too familiar. My grandmother -- the woman I am named after, the matriarch of our family -- died last January, and much of 2012 was spent understanding her death, coping with it and living with it. It felt unusually cruel to have to face another emotional blow just one year later.

But we often have to face things we feel we aren't prepared for, and last week, with work looming, we decided we needed to be with Jordan's family. My grandmother's death reminded me of the importance of family, of grieving and being together, and Monday, we called our respective bosses and drove the long six hours to the hospital. 

I know it is incredibly selfish, but the next three days reminded me so much of my grandmother's final month of life that I had a hard time sitting in the hospital, watching Jordan's family say goodbye to their father and grandfather. 

Death hurts, and it doesn't matter if it's expected, doesn't matter if it's your first loved one to lose or your fourth or your fifteenth. It is sad, and it leaves you feeling hungover for days in this cloud of disbelief and exhaustion and tears.

Pop passed away last Wednesday, and I can hardly believe it's already been a week. This is what happens, by the way. When you grieve, time means nothing. It is warped, and days last weeks and weeks last days. This Tuesday would have been his 90th birthday, and I get so sad when I think about that, when I look at these 90th birthday t-shirts plastered with his face, and it hits me that he didn't make it to that milestone. But then I think maybe he's playing checkers with my grandpa. Maybe his mom made his favorite dinner. 

And maybe heaven looks nothing like that, but I really don't care. It helps me to think he's eating and joking and making kids laugh, healthy now instead of broken. 

I have experienced death less than most. I still have both of my parents, my sibling, a slew of aunts and uncles, my husband. I've only lost grandparents, and I know that's lucky, understand that's special. But that doesn't diminish my sadness. I think about my grandparents all the time. I think about them when an elderly woman comes into the store or when I look back on my wedding day or when I dream about our future kids and how they won't ever know these people I knew with my whole heart.

With each passing soul, though, I am reminded of how important it is to be present. Jordan will never forget this last week, will never forget what it means to be surrounded by family, to be there in the moments it matters the most. My own parents drove up to the funeral on Saturday, and when they walked into the doors, I gave them the biggest hug I could muster. I needed my people. Jordan needed his. We needed each other. 

Death is hard, and perhaps one of the only things that makes it better is mixing the tears with laughter. Sitting with family and remembering those we love. Being there to run errands, to write obituaries, to design programs. Being together

We came home, pulled into our driveway at 1:00 in the morning on Sunday. We got up for church for Jordan to teach his final Myers-Briggs class. We tried to take a long nap. We picked up our dog from my aunt and uncle. We walked around in a little bit of a fog. 

And just when things started to seem unbearable and overwhelming, our friends bought our groceries for the entire week, unasked. My aunt slipped me cash, knowing I'd had to go an entire week without pay. (Something, by the way, I don't regret. Not even the littlest bit.) Three different friends have brought meals for us this week.

My point is: Life is hard sometimes. We've had an unbelievably rough couple of weeks, and our thoughts are never too far from Jordan's dad. From his aunts. From his strong, sweet grandmother. These are the people who will muddle through 2013, always associating it with the year they lost the man they loved the most.

But just when it seems we can't go on, something reminds us we can. We can, and we will, and we do. 

8 comments:

leslielaughs.com said...

Lifting you up, friend.
I've also only lost my grandparents, but all 4 were really difficult. Your emotions are legitimate, and your words are encouraging, beautiful and needed, as always.

Erin said...

I think all the time of how my future children will never know some of my grandparents. And it is unimaginable to me because they were such an important part of my life and my family.
But as we lose family, it is the blessing of family that gets us through it, I think.
Hugs to you.

emilyschubert said...

Praying for you guys <3

So tough.

Annie said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Annie, & for Jordan's. We forget how important family is as we go through the mundane. It's moments like these - and posts like these - that remind us we need not only to be present in our lives but present and focused in keeping up the relationships with the friends and family we have.

Sabrina said...

I have been keeping yall in prayer. One thing that is so positive is that I bet Jordan got so much of his "Jordan-ness" from his grandfather. He is a living testament to his grandfather's life, just like you are to your grandmother's life.

Ray Sherlock said...

You have such a gift in expresses things through written words. I am amazed at how we all carry on characteristics of those in our lives. While we rejoice in a life well lived it does hurt when we lose those we cherish.

UR

Brittany said...

This is really beautiful. And I'm so sorry for you and Jordan. I'll be thinking of you.

But you're right, your people will save you. I've never felt more loved than when friends and family have shown up at my doorstep just to make sure I was okay.

Melissa said...

We're totally with you, Annie and dear Jordan. Carl and I are total orphans now, after losing daddy in May 2012 and his mom January 2013...it is very difficult, as you stated. The very bright spot is that both our recently lost loved ones KNEW without a doubt they were loved and we were there. And the circle of life continues as we look forward to the birth of our first grandchild in August - the birth month of Baby V's grandmother (me) and great grandmother (Mrs. V.). We love you both and know you'll move right along, like the rest of us, able to remember those wonderful people who completed our lives.