She died. And, as childish as it sounds to say that, I need to say it because I’m finally crying.
Yeah, I cried when I first got the call, and again when I had to call the airline to buy an over-priced plane ticket and “state the relationship of the deceased.” No, it wasn’t that cold, but it might as well have been.
And then I didn’t cry. I flew and held my child and had lunch with my in-laws and received hugs and cards and hugged my nieces and nephew and slept and woke and went to church and swam in a pool and walked around The Farm and picked up a color-card and kicked aside the flies and the mouse turds and took pictures of the chicken coop and looked at the horizon and wrote a sermon and preached it and accepted the “well-dones” from well-meaning relatives. But I didn't cry.
And before we pulled away from the apartment building and waved good-bye out the window I took a falling-apart photo album made in the days before acid-free anything back to the hotel with me and as gently as I could I ripped out the pictures of me and my brother and my mom and my aunt and my grandma and my great-grandma and a lot of other people who are no longer living, who are dead, and I slipped them into an envelope "to do something with" when I get a chance and I threw the album pages and cover away in the dinky hotel garbage can.
And I flew back and greeted a college acquaintance on the plane and cleaned up my child’s vomit and went back to work and at night rocked my sick child and then took off my shoes and socks while I preached again and we survived Easter and everything that means for a pastor whose grandmother has died and we moved zombie-like through the days and got sick and moved along and I smiled when I told people again and again, “She was 96 … an amazing woman … lived on The Farm most of her life … stubborn Swede … she had a stroke … still living alone … amazing woman.” And I meant every word and I still didn’t cry.
Until tonight. I sat at the bar in our living room with the pictures that I had taken out of the album spread before me and saw the legacy of these women … Grandma's handwriting on the backs … strong … stubborn … rooted to the farm … amazing women. And I cried. Finally, I cried.