Friday, May 12, 2006

Pictures

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.

11 comments:

Kathryn said...

It maybe sounds strange to say "well done" now, but I mean it...you've allowed yourself to deal with this as YOU need to, rather than fitting in to some artificial scheme of things deemed to be acceptable. You've held things together for those you pastor, you've functioned on the daily level, but you've not cut yourself off from feeling, from being real.
I rather think that some of those adjectives you applied to your grandmother might fit here...bet she's proud of you.
Hugs xx

Being Shielded said...

Oh, Pink Shoes. This resonnates more than you'll ever know. (((Hugs)))

reverendmother said...

(o)

will smama said...

amen.

LutheranChik said...

{{{{{Pink Shoes}}}}}

To me, in the weeks after my mom's death, it often felt as if I were on an assembly line, being asked to do, do, do when I wanted to curl up into a ball and cry.

erin said...

Love how eloquently you put these feelings of loss into words. When I read your description of your grandmother it made me think about how we can never really describe those we love fully so that another understands how much they meant to us. Thanks for sharing these feelings with your readers!

cheesehead said...

(o)

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Dear Pink,

Me too.

It was a photo of my granny that finally broke through and brought me to tears when she died two years ago. The photo was one that my aunt had taken of her a year or so after my grandfather died. It was a haunting image, full of fierce strength, pride, sadness, love, complexity. I took one look at it and just fell apart.

Death is such a catalyst for other things, too. Things shift when someone dies. Houses are sold, stuff given away or brought home. There is a kind of physical shifting that kind of represents the inner emotional shuffles that go on.

I will keep you in my prayers.

Love+
Rachel

SingingOwl said...

When I visited my sister who is stricken with Alzheimers I was feeling guilty because I was enjoying the wonderful weather, sunshine, flowers, mountains, my nephew and his family. I wondered if something was wrong with me. And then one day it all came in, and I cried and cried. I'll blog about it when I can. Grief is a strange thing. I pray for the Comforter to be close to you in this time. ((({Pink Shoes))))

Sally said...

How wonderful to have such depth in relationships that tears not only bring releif but healing- in such a way they are bitter-sweet.
Thoughts and prayers are with you, that one day you will look back at the pictures and cards and smile.

Mary Beth said...

Hugs to you.