Clearly there is a theme to this week, but it’s omnipresent at the moment and I can’t think amout much else. Being with grandma has been amazing and most of the times things just feel normal, as if grandpa is in the next room getting a coke or taking a nap, both of which he did a lot. But then I walk into the dining room and there is a lovely portrait of him that has been prepared for the memorial service and it’s an immediate reminder that he isn’t coming back. Or there will be a slight pause in conversation and someone gets a little misty and we all think about how much he loved sitting around the table “fixing the problems of the world” as my grandmother likes to say. And I think about what he’s missing. The whole family is here and he should be, too.
Cynthia Rylant’s Missing May (Scholastic, $5.99) describes the turbulent emotions of being left behind, and the desire to hold on long after someone is gone. When May suddenly dies, Summer and her uncle Ob struggle between mourning May’s death and holding on to the possibility that she could communicate with them from the spirit world. I come from a rather religious family and the discourse is always clearly focused on grandpa being “in a better place” or “with the Lord”. These types of phrases don’t mean much to me as I can’t imagine him wanting to be anywhere other than with his family. But these are the phrases people hold on to; the ones they say to comfort each other and themselves; the phrases we use to help ease the pain of letting go. I can’t decide if I envy the certainty that grandpa continues on — in another place. But I do know that hearing all the stories this week means that we can let go, without losing him.