Friday, January 17, 2014

Dear Grama

Today was your memorial service.  I've never actually attended a memorial service before, so I can't say how it compares, but I thought yours was fitting.  I think you would have liked it.

It was simple.
It was heartfelt.
It was full of love.
It had Pepsi.

We gathered together, everyone in one room, seated in burgundy plastic chairs facing a table.  On the table was a simple cloth, a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi in the center, two framed photos (one of you from your Navy days, one of you with your adult children around you), and two elegant vases of cut flowers - tiny sunflowers and daisies and baby's breath.  It made me laugh, because as my mother-in-law remarked, cut flowers were perfect for this because you always said you hate cut flowers. Cut flowers are for funerals.  And here we are.

Aunt Gretchen was our master of ceremonies, and she led us into a short but meaningful program where several family members recounted stories and thoughts of you, followed by the Lord's prayer, and finished up with the playing of Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" remix.

Many people say, during times of grief and loss, that our loved one who has passed away wouldn't want us to be sad.  But I don't know if that's accurate even some of the time.  Today, I think you would have appreciated that we all are saddened at the idea that we'll no longer be making new memories with you.  Everyone wants to be loved.  Everyone wants to leave a mark on our ever-changing world.  Sometimes that mark is just a room full of people who weep to think that you've left us. Of course, you've left a more lasting impression than that in all the people who are here because you were here.

We walked out of the community room, where many of us allowed ourselves to truly feel the finality of your loss, and we left the darkness of the building for the bright sunshine of a desert winter's day.  A light breeze cooled the tears from our cheeks.  The great grandchildrens' shrieks and laughter filled our ears - the music of life.  We remembered to smile.  We gathered in groups, taking photos of people who see each other all too infrequently.

It was a gorgeous day.  I know you would have loved the warm sun on your skin, the crisp scent of fallen leaves in the air.

It was the perfect day for you, for your memory to be firmly embedded into each of our hearts.

Together, we will forge ahead.  Sometimes, we'll let the grief overwhelm us.  But that is no way to live.  So mostly, we'll keep living.  We'll live on with the lessons you taught us, the jokes you laughed at, the jewelry you left us, the photos we gave you that have now been returned.

And the next people to join the family?  The spouses to come, the children yet to be born?  They'll know you, too.  Everyone will know the infamous Nan, the matriarch of the family.

Thank you for sharing your life with us, Grama.

Another Goodbye

I fully intended on writing a blog to share all of the Christmas photos, but it seems that Christmas is going to continue to be overshadowed by loss.

Today is the memorial for my grandmother. I should be getting dressed.  I just can't bring myself to put on the outfit I picked out. I know its a memorial, most people will be wearing black.  I never in my life saw my grandmother wear black. For her entire family to gather, somber faces and black clothes just doesn't seem to be a testament to her very colorful life. 

Unfortunately, I don't really have anything bright enough to make that statement. I work in a theater, 95% of my wardrobe is black. So I will go put on my black blouse, and my grandmother's ring, and go find the comfort of family as we celebrate the life of my grandmother.