August 3, 2013

At a Loss

Grief is a funny thing.  (Funny as in strange, odd, or ironic – not comical.) It never seems to look the same and often jumps in at the oddest times, commandeering all attention.  It can look like hours of unending tears punctuated by moments of shocked silence.  Grief can look like you go about your business day in and day out as if nothing has changed, then break down and cry while folding laundry. Grief can look like losing a record amount of hair in a small amount of time. Grief can look like writing a blog post in the middle of the night that you really don't need to read, but I really needed to write.

My grandma died yesterday.

I can barely type those words.  I will write more, I need to write more, but I do not have the right words right now to do justice to the incredible woman that she was.  After two weeks in the hospital, she was finally healed – just not on this earth.  I am so very grateful to know that she is at peace and no longer in pain, but this whole losing-someone-you-love thing?  It is really lousy.

I have often haughtily observed how blessed I have been to have experienced so little loss in my life.  As a 25-year-old, I was often alone in my peer group for having all four grandparents still alive.  My siblings and I would marvel at our good luck and the blessing that comes with having a wonderful relationship with all of our grandparents – a luxury our parents and most of our friends were not afforded.  But this is the hard part.  We loved her, we knew her, she knew us, she loved us - she was not some distant grandparent who only visited on holidays and only talked with the adults.  She came to basketball games and piano recitals and took us out to lunch every year for our birthday - and now she is gone.

We are leaving Hawai’i two weeks earlier than we planned to get home for the funeral and to be with family.  Even though our time here has been wonderful, I had long been looking forward to heading home.  Then, today, it hit me.  As I folded my tears in with Cole’s dress shirts, in our (likely over the 50lb weight limit) suitcases, I realized that home was the last place I wanted to be.

Don’t get me wrong… for the last two weeks that my grandmother had been in the hospital, I would have given anything to be home – holding her hand, talking to her, and surrounded by family.  Yet now, as I crammed the last of our unworn sweatshirts into the carry-on, Spokane was the last place I wanted to be.  And I couldn’t figure out why.  I knew it was not because I was sad to leave Hawai’i and the beaches and the sun… And I knew that I was longing to get home and hug my mom and family, but I could not pinpoint what it was.

Sometimes, grief looks like cleaning out your shower drain more in the last two days than in the last two months altogether.  Sometimes grief looks like crying through the memories so your husband hears the story about how she often forgot the peas in the microwave.  And, sometimes, grief looks like sitting on the bathroom floor writing at 1am because your sleepless mind will not stop.  My sleepless mind put the pieces together and realized why I was so reluctant to leave.  I realized that I just don’t want to know what home is like without her.  I have been okay in Hawai’i because it is as though, at times, I can deny the reality that she is gone because she was not supposed to be here, Hawaii, in the first place.  I could go to Portland and not feel ripped apart.   San Francisco, Sunnyside, Seattle… anywhere other than Spokane.  She is supposed to be in Spokane.  She is supposed to be standing at the top of the stairs of their split-level waiting for my hug.  She is supposed to step out of the car when Grandpa comes over for dinner.  She is supposed to ask for an ice cube for her glass of chardonnay.  She is supposed to teach my kids the spaghetti song.  I want to be with my family, but I know that once we’re all together, I will have to face the reality that she is actually gone.

I know I need to be thankful that I have had twenty-five years of memories with this one astounding lady, and I am. I am so very blessed to be her granddaughter.  And I am grateful beyond words to know that she is finally Home and at rest.  Selfishly though, I miss her like crazy and I know Spokane will never be the same.

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words."   -  1 Thess. 4:13-18


  1. Beautiful post, Laura. I too, know the deep grief of loss and my heart weeps with you. {{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}

  2. Laura,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. I'm thankful with you that you had those wonderful years with her! I'll be praying for you all as the Lord brings you to my mind (which is often!). I loved my Nanny (my dad's mom) and was so saddened by her death. I knew that God was taking her, that it was her time, and that she was free from bodily pain, but it still didn't cover the hole in my heart.

    When I went into labor on September 9, 2009 (with Graeme-bear) I knew that I would have a long labor. And when he was finally born, at 12:14pm on the 11th of September, I sobbed, staring at that beautifully sweet little boy. That day is such a special day, not only because it's the birthday of my Graeme but also because it was Nanny's too.

    I'm still amazed at God's goodness to me through it. Being the youngest of four and the last to get married and have babies, my babies were the only ones that Nanny didn't meet. But I love that Graeme has her birthday. And it seems so right.

    I will pray for God's comfort for you and that, as time moves forward, he will bind up your wounds.
    And for now, I'm praying that as you travel home to Spokane, God will wrap you in Himself, holding your heart and your memories.


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