After the memorial service, I was able to reach some level of peace with my grandmother’s death. I wouldn’t call it closure, per se, rather a state of normalcy. The Vachette still talked about how Mammy had died and how Mammy’s death made Mommy sad. But the worst had vanished. Or at least, it had gone away enough to make room for more manageable, even happy thoughts. Like smiling at happy memories. But, these days, grief seems to be revisiting me.
I’ve heard grief can come in waves, so this must be my second wave. In some ways, having a label for the feeling makes it easier to handle. So far, it’s not as intense as the first wave. I don’t quite feel mired, but I do feel slowed, fragile, easily overwhelmed. In fact, I’m tearing up as I write, and I’m okay with that. And I’m saying that while sitting in a public place. So bravo to me.
It’s pretty easy to see what triggered this second wave: the dismantling of Mammy’s house. My mother and aunt have been readying it for eventual sale. Again, another normal step in the aftermath of death.
My grandmother not only curated a beautiful life, she also curated a beautiful home full of beautiful things. Naturally, she would like her loved ones to hold onto some of them. So last week, I got inundated with questions about china, paintings, furniture, and other potential heirlooms. These questions were well meant, an attempt to confirm, and since this is my family, reconfirm everyone got what they wanted without any mistakes. On better days, I could have rolled my eyes at this collective neurosis, and Mammy and I could have laughed at it together. But she’s not here, and I just feel sad. Really sad.
I’m glad for my mom and aunt. They sold the car. They found the right estate sales to take the items that are not staying with the family. They needed to get this done, and the process played out serendipitously with minimal headache. And I also feel very grateful for beautiful pieces of furniture and objets d’art that we will soon have shipped to Somerville. Seriously, some of the mid-century modern stuff that is coming my way would be part of a collector’s dream.
Yet, this is just one more reminder of her loss. And now I am noticing other things too that Mammy is no longer here to enjoy. Like the spring flowers that are still blooming. And the pleasure of sitting outside on a summer-like day. Mammy had an uncanny ability to find beauty in everything. When we used to take family vacations to the beach in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Mammy took such pleasure in eating dinner outside, watching the sun set over the Currituck Sound. I was an obnoxious teenager then, usually oblivious to such rose-smelling, but this experience left a clear imprint as I can still picture Mammy’s delighted face as she watched the sunset.
She won’t be watching any seaside sunsets this summer, but perhaps this second wave will have passed by summertime. Then, when we’re in Greece, I can watch the sun over Karpathos and delight in it for her.
(Photo, sunset over the Currituck Sound, by M0M3NTUM)