Sunday, June 12, 2016

On death, and grief, and all that crazy stuff!

It has been one year since my grandma suddenly died, and then my grandpa followed her that same week.  I've had many thoughts, struggles, emotions.  I feel my heart has been on my sleeve more than ever this past year.  I don't share much.  I just process it, mainly late at night when no one is around.  There's very little that can be said to make the process easier, on anyone in any situation of loss.  But, I do still write poetry and sometimes it helps me.  So, I thought maybe I would share a raw poem that I have been working on. 

It happened in June


I remember the way it begins,

Even the first time,

six years ago,

she was kicking my organs,

spinning around in there,

as if tossed by the ocean waves,

keeping me awake at night with her hiccups


And when the day came, twelve days overdue,

it was hot, and I was tired-

as I felt when a wave took me by surprise

and I ran to get away from it

Ready to collapse, as if I might die-

couldn’t believe it was taking so long-

the hours that felt like days

because it was like some kind of strange reality

Asking “What is going on?”

“Can you see her head?”


Then a quick decision, and going into surgery

The tugging of the surgeons on my body

and not really caring at all

As if the ocean had taken over anyway

and it didn’t matter, because I was safe,

and she was safe,

For so soon I would get to see her!

Then finally seeing her, and holding her,

The tears pouring out of our eyes

The moment that she was in my arms,

feeling that everything was great in the world

and feeling like I had come through a storm

but now I was sitting on the deck of the ship,

enjoying the richest sunset I had ever seen-

so filled up by the sight of it, I had no words-

just endless love, like the endless ocean


I had never seen the end-

At least- not that I can remember-

But when the end came for Grandma

it was like a summer hurricane

I never saw approaching

until suddenly it was ripping through me-

knocking me off my feet in one instant

Large raindrops flooding the yard,

pelting against the window panes

Loud and shocking thunder


After traveling hours for Grandma’s funeral,

to a big dinner and a rare family reunion,

but no relief from my ocean of tears,

my aunt told us all

Grandpa was not doing well





So we went to the house

where he lived  with others

who also were dying

Walked right past Grandma’s room,

still full of her chair, her bed, her dresser

with her earrings and necklaces on it,

her nightstand with her evening reading

right there on top,

as if she was still alive


Then down the hall,

to see Grandpa there in his room, lying in the bed

breathing in and out, heavily, with his eyes closed

and his mouth wide open, his lips dry and parched


My aunts and uncles were saying to sit by him

and that he could hear us

I moved by his side as if I was a vessel on autopilot

Waiting for someone to switch my gears-

Someone to direct me somewhere else where

the waters were clearer, less dangerous


Struggling to hold back my ocean of tears

I sat beside him on the bed, rubbed his head

Told him that I loved him

It was like being on the shore on a foggy afternoon,

longing to see the beauty and the depth of

the ocean,

knowing it is right there,

but fighting to find it,

desperate to get back to it


When my sorrow welled up in me

like an ocean wave

that must go to shore,

no matter who is in the path,

I went to the backyard

where my children and nephews played,


I held my nephew, felt his soft cheeks against mine,

engaged in some baby laughs,

My daughter showed me some pretty rocks she found

and I was able to smile, to remember that endless love

like the endless ocean

even in the midst of loss


Early the next morning, we got the call

that Grandpa had gone on to be with Grandma

We all knew it was coming

But it was still like the tide coming in

when you aren’t done collecting your shells

and you need more time,

and you wish it could have been different


Even as we went to the funeral home

and I looked at Grandma’s face

in her casket-

even then I was reminding myself over and over

that she was no longer alive-

Even as I saw her there in front of me- no longer alive

Even as we sat at the graveside service

and people spoke nice words about life with my grandparents

which I can’t even remember

because it was like some kind of strange reality

It was like an ocean wave

that sneaks up on me and pulls me under before I even know

what is going on

and all I can do is ask “What is going on?”

I didn’t even realize I was in the ocean to begin with


I know they are happy, I know they are whole,

I know they are exactly where they want to be

With our Savior in heaven

My heart feels like a raging hurricane ripped through it even so


Then there is my sweet girl-

As we were driving home after the funeral weekend,

she asked for a stack of papers so she could draw

So I handed her a stack of lined paper torn from my notebook

and she was happily drawing for an hour


We stopped for a break and she showed us her homemade book-

featuring our weekend:

the layout of the motorhome we stayed in,

all of us sitting at the campground eating popcorn,

her and her cousin going down a slide at the splash park,

and her great grandma in her pink casket, with roses on the side


As she proudly talked about her drawings

it was like God whispering to my shattered heart,

“here is an anchor, in the midst of a wretched storm,”


And there I was, sitting on the deck of the ship again,

knowing I could never go overboard

Because there she was,

pulling me in with her eyes,

So filled up by the sight of them, I had no words-

Just endless love like the endless ocean



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