How to Say Goodbye

It started to seem like death was swirling all around me. In just the past few months my Aunt, Grandmother, and a classmate from high school all passed away. The one year anniversary of a friends death hit right in the middle of all that in April, and the rawness of the grief took me a bit by surprise.

Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, Sister, and Me c.1990's not long before my Grandpa passed

I suppose I'm an introspective person, most writers are, when something happens in the world, I want to know why. I want to understand my emotions, the reactions of those around me, I want to make connections to the larger story. I try to observe, and to take away some truth, and if that truth pierces me with a sharp enough arrow, I let myself bleed in words.

This is all starting to sound a bit cryptic, but really, what I want to say is, that lately I have been unable to bleed. Is death too big to wrap my head around? Is it shock or fear that makes me numb? Explaining grief may be a futile thing, and from what I hear, it can be different for everyone. It may be a deep, dark pit, that we don't know how to climb out of. It may be a wind that blows from time to time whenever we see a picture or remember a loved one's voice. Or it may be, as it has been for me, a frozen layer of ice that I've had to let thaw gradually, scooping up tiny puddles bit by bit.

It's strange how we forget about death until we are faced with it. Just two weeks ago my Grandmother passed away. She had been on hospice care, and as I loaded my family into the car for a ten hour drive to Indiana we knew it was only a matter of days. She was 98, it was her time. We had been anticipating it for years, and yet, when the words came that she had finally passed there was still a moment of shock.

My grandmother's passing caused us to take an unexpected journey that turned into a 10 day stay. Though it was for a bit of a sad reason, we were able to spend some quality time with family, reminisce, and bring back some things that belonged to her and my grandfather, treasures to remind us and carry on their legacy.

picture of my Grandmother, Mom, and Sister: The Morris genes are strong with this one

Death is the only journey we all CAN expect, and yet when it comes we are never quite ready to say goodbye.

This past week I had a mom friend and her three kids staying at our house while they got ready to move out of state. My son and hers have become best friends over that past few years, and they had so much fun on this extended sleep over. They left last night, and when my son woke up this morning, their absence was definitely felt. 

He cried when I told him we probably wouldn't be seeing them for a long time, and I held him in my arms, all curled up in a ball on my lap. Somehow, his tears seemed to unlock the part of me that had become numb, and all of a sudden there was a flood of emotion pouring out from that once frozen iceberg, so that I am able to write this post.

If we believe in an afterlife, then goodbye is only goodbye for now, and we can follow the same advice that I gave to my five year old this morning:

"we'll write letters, we'll talk, we'll look at pictures, and remember things, until we're able to see them again."

Grandpa and Grandma on a trip to East Asia c.1970's