I got such a nice response to my posting about my grandmother’s passing last week (and first of all, thanks for that) so I thought I’d write a quick update/addendum. And then I’ll try to keep things on here a bit more upbeat. If there’s one thing Bubby would have wanted, it’s for me to be happy and not dwell on her passing for too long.
It has been an emotionally taxing few days. There was good (my family seems bonded now more than it’s ever been); and there was sadness (can’t remember when I cried as much). Sitting shiva was for me, overall, an enjoyable experience, but it was truly bi-polar: the highs were very high, and the lows were very low. At times it felt more like a party than a somber gathering, which many said was appropriate since we were supposed to be celebrating Bubby’s life. It still felt odd and a bit absurd.
I was one of four grandchildren (of seven, total, not including spouses) to give a eulogy at the funeral on Thursday, and apparently, it was so good it might have scored me a date — with someone else who apparently gave a nice eulogy at a funeral recently. One of our family friends thinks that makes us a match. (I can only imagine what I’ll say when I call her.) Oh, and she lives in New York (y’all know how I feel about dating people in Cambridge). Let’s just say I’m not expecting too much there.
These past few days, we got out a lot of old photos of Bubby and letters and stuff, and enjoyed looking through them and putting them out for others to see. And my cousins (and their spouses), aunts, parents, sister (and brother-in-law), and I laughed, bonded, sat around, and just talked … we ate, ate, and ate some more … we reminisced … and we really did have a very good time being together. My dad joked that if Bubby knew this would be the result of her passing, she would have died years ago. (Good that we could keep our sense of humor.)
Of course, the hardest part for me was when the house would get quiet again and the laughter stopped, and all of a sudden all there was to do was look at the pictures and realize why we were there. I’d look over and Bubby wouldn’t be there. I’d want to call her, and she wouldn’t be there. And most often, I’d just want to give her a hug, but there was no one to hug. It’s the silences that are the most painful still. Walking into my apartment Sunday night, I had to put on the radio softly while I ate dinner. And not surprisingly, it was very hard to leave New York Sunday afternoon. I’m actually kind of happy to be back at work today, if only for the constant noise and distraction.
When she died, Bubby was 91 years old. (At least that’s what we’re going to put on the gravestone; there’s some debate about her true age.) It was said multiple times this week that she had a good run: she traveled a lot, made it to my sister’s wedding just like she wanted to (not to mention the weddings of two of my cousins), got to see her whole family in the days before she passed away (minus my cousin who is in Hong Kong), was constantly surrounded by love, and died knowing she was going to be a great-grandmother (sorry, Stacey). Personally, I can say I have absolutely no regrets about my relationship with her, and I’m sure she is somewhere right now thankful for a life well-lived.
The pain of Bubby’s loss is still hard, but it’s comforting to know how close my family is now and how good my friends have been during this difficult time. I know I’ll continue to have my moments of sadness, but for Bubby I’ll be strong and will go on with my life, continuing to make her proud.