I mean really, I spent three days last week crying. So, what’s my deal? If you are going to cry in public, it might as well be with the perfect, sticky sweet mocha and a friend who gets it. My plan was to hit the highlights, just enough information to let her know what was going on and then focus on what was going in her world. We would talk writing and deadlines and I would hand her my proposal giving the green light for a red pen and slashing out all the words and lines that were a waste of space.
I realized I was doing the same thing with my grief; I just didn’t want to bother her with it, or acknowledge that it was deep enough to leave a vacant space. Noticeable, like a gutted out house that you know is going to have walls and will eventually be livable, but not until some work is done. Work equals time, demands it really, and we don’t like that, do we?
So, there is this woman that pretty much thought I hung the moon. She was wrong about that because she hung it far and high, shining a light for those she loved. As long as her moon was in place everything was going to be okay, eventually, because there would be a place for us to go. A place for me to run wild and roll around in a pile of leaves as a child, a bathroom where I brushed my teeth for twenty minutes after a first kiss that was horrible. In that house I vowed to never kiss again because it was weird and I didn’t really like him that much anyway. In that house was a room for me to sleep, but I didn’t like that either, so I would knock on her door and say her name softly. Grandma. And then crawl in bed with her and talk until I ran out of words and fall asleep feeling safe and loved.
I somehow mixed the words together to tell my friend how this could be my beloved’s end here on earth. She’s not the same. Her house isn’t the same. I thought I would be okay seeing her house empty, but I wasn’t. Months ago, without even thinking, I gasped and put my hands over my mouth looking at the dead, empty room. My reaction made my Aunt cry and I hated that. It seemed smaller without her things and her furniture and her trinkets. I knew it had to be done as I carried out a box with my name on it with every single clipping from the newspapers that I was in, pictures, and crummy artwork telling her in the best way that a five-year-old can, I love my family.
It’s strange seeing your heart in a box, just a pile of old memories. We want to leave our mark on the world, but we are blessed beyond measure if we make marks on the hearts of people we love. Words that say, “You belong here.” I walked out of the house that held my favorite and best memories wondering if I would ever be in that house again. Two years ago, I wrote about Alzheimer’s as the long, painful goodbye; I guess that’s a poetic, tidy way to say what this experience has been like. It wouldn’t do any good to shake my fists at a disease that turned off the lights in my Grandma’s heart and misplaced her altogether in the confines of her body.
As I wrapped up my hurt, talking with my friend that has easily made her way into the inner circle of my friend group and heart, I noticed her eyes were glossy and red because she understood. I was doing that “don’t make eye contact and pull yourself together and stop crying” thing. But, she cried with me because she just lost her beloved Grandpa. In a coffee shop two grown women felt small again and childlike because of what love built inside of us growing up.
Yes, we talked about writing and bounced ideas off of each other, but we cried first and dreamed second. Clarity came as tears dried up. I left feeling happy about the direction of my project and that I didn’t give the easy answer to how I was doing. I was brave enough to let my untidy heart be seen.
Homes will be gutted for someone else to live in and hearts will be gutted to make room for a love that hurts and sacred space for relationships that are true gifts.
Today I’ll be back to my quirky self and take a long walk after working. I’ll listen to some music, preferably not The House That Love Built or The Heart Will Go On because that would require a stiff drink and would be problematic because I’ve never had one. I know I don’t need anything to ease the pain other than simply feeling it. I’ll pray knowing God is with me. Always.
I know that I am okay because the pain I feel is cradled in love that cannot die. Grief comes in waves with sometimes gentle currents, and other times it takes you under flailing, but eventually you come up for air. I guess that’s what I did yesterday, I came up for air in a coffee shop with a sticky sweet mocha with a sweet, encouraging friend. I took off the mask of “I’m good, how are you?” and left better and lighter. I would highly recommend it.
With my mask off, messy, & lots of love,