WOW! I have to say that I am really proud of myself. I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull off blogging every day. Now, granted I missed a couple of days here and there, but I went back and made them up, still hitting every topic.
Day 31 -- A Vivid Memory
It was a warm spring day in May. The sun was peeking through the clouds as we pulled up to the church. I still remember the effort it took to get out of the car and the sound of the doors as they slammed behind us. My heels clicked on the pavement as I made my way toward the door of the building, my head tucked toward my chest. I wasn't ready for this.
My eyes panned over the crowd of people that were already gathering and I busied myself with little Andrew, trying to not make contact with anyone, but it was too late. Everywhere I looked were sad eyes and brave smiles. My eyes met my cousin Dana across the room and we both smiled. She made her way toward me and folded me into one of the longest, deepest hugs I've ever experienced. It was comforting and heartbreaking all at once.
We made our way down the hall to the room I was trying so desperately to avoid. I took a deep, cleansing breath and walked into the room. There were aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends everywhere. And at the front of the room was the lush, rich casket containing the earthly body of my grandmother.
Time stood still for a moment. The larger than life, louder than necessary, vibrant, smiling woman that I had known for all my 22 years lay still and stoic, dressed in white. It was difficult for me to remember that just three days earlier she had spoken on the telephone to Andrew, and my heart caught in my throat. Why hadn't I gotten on the line and talked to her too?
The next half hour was a bittersweet trip down memory lane with family coming together to share stories and anecdotes, remembering her imparted bits of wisdom and wondering who was going to take over the duties that had so seamlessly and lovingly been handled by the family matriarch. There were tears, there was laughter......and there was love. Then it was time to go to the chapel.
I watched as everyone began to file out of the room, and purposefully held back. I wasn't ready to leave yet, not ready to tear myself away from her, knowing that once I left the room there was no going back. Soon everyone had gone, leaving me alone standing at the casket. I looked down at my grandmother, grabbed her hand and placed a kiss on her forehead. I told her that I loved her. And in that moment, it was just her and I.......she was there. I knew she was.
I made my way into the chapel with my family, somewhat numbed to what was going on; willing myself to wake up, because this had to be a horrible dream. But as I walked up to the pulpit preparing to sing for her one last time, my heart pounding in my ears, I knew that it was not a dream.
Just before the music started I looked up over the congregation. I saw the family in the first few rows, close friends, people that knew and loved my grandmother........and I was overcome by what I saw. There were so many people. It felt like the entire town of 3500 people were crammed into the church that day. Every seat was taken, there were people standing. I was overcome with what an impact my grandmother must have had, what a significant imprint she must have left on the world to have so many people want to join with us in celebrating her life.
The strength to share my song somehow found it's way to my heart. And in that moment, it didn't feel like she was gone. It felt like she was standing right there behind me, singing every word with me. I wasn't alone, and in the last chord of the song, I knew I never would be.
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