I was given a whole week to grieve.
Four days bereavement leave from work, two paid days for the Thanksgiving holiday, and a weekend.
I had a visitation to attend, a memorial service, a burial and a lunch following.
I was surrounded by family, and my precious Alex handed me a handkerchief as I wept during Grams' favorite hymn, "What a friend we have in Jesus."
My voice wavered as I read aloud from Job: naked I came into this world, naked I will leave it. The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away.
I thought I had let out what I needed to, that I had "handled it" honestly and openly.
But I'm finding myself back in life as I know it where I'm really starting to feel sad, alarmed by the tears falling at various intervals down my face, dripping onto my lap as I drive.
I find the skin on my face feeling thin, as if I've been sobbing for hours.
I bought heaps of dollar store Christmas gifts for my niece and nephew during my lunch hour to cheer myself up. It worked, sort of.
I ordered a print of this picture, to frame and hang in my home:
I thought about scheduling a massage after work, but decided against it.
I fantasized about holing up in my bedroom and just being alone and, well, sad tonight.
I'm considering writing Christmas cards, to overcome the darkness by putting some light out into the world.
I keep thinking about her watch. I lifted my four-year-old nephew up above the casket, and he asked, quiet and pure, "How is she keeping so still?"
I waited for my brother to come closer to us, to answer such formative questions for his son. He joined us, and told James that we were looking at her body only, that her soul is with Jesus.
"Your soul is what's inside you, in your head, what makes you you," he explained.
As I held him, we noticed her wristwatch, around her thin left arm, crossed in her lap atop her purple floral outfit.
It was still ticking.
It maybe still is, under the ground on a hillside in Kansas.
It's killing me, that watch.
It used to drive her batty that I didn't wear a watch. She was so concerned I would never know what time it was. I wouldn't be surprised if she requested to be buried with hers.
I didn't think I was that close with my grandma. I appreciated her sass, her strength, but I didn't reach out to her in times of need. I guess I'm learning it's not about that. Someone doesn't have to be your bestie to make you cry. She just has to be gone.
Part of me wants to scream, thinking of the symbolism of the tiny second hand on her wrist, making endless loops around the watch's face. I want to scream: "There's still time!"
The other part knows she was in so pain, and is grateful for her that she doesn't have to wait out the painful hours anymore.
There's an episode of the show I can quote most readily, Friends, when Chandler is broken up with Janice, and Monica and Rachel are coaching him through it.
Trying to cheer him up with ice cream, he tastes it and says, "This ice cream tastes like crap, by the way," and the girls explain to him that when you keep getting your heart broken, you have to eat low fat stuff to keep from ballooning up.
As the episodes continues on and Chandler is delivered another blow from Cupid, he asks his comforting female friends, "It's time for the good ice cream now, right?"
I'm in the good ice cream stage now, as far as I can tell.
This weekend I plan to snuggle with Max, with Alex. To drink, but now drown myself in, good wine. To remember to eat, even though I don't have much of an appetite.
The day Grams died, I bought a pizza and brought it to Alex's, and picked out all the best episodes of Friends to watch. I may turn to Joey and Ross and Company this weekend, if I feel it is well advised to do so.
And hopefully, as I quote lines aloud before the actors can say them first, I will gather some gumption to write notes inside Christmas cards, address envelopes and stick stamps in corners.
Because Grams would have liked that, and if she was an example of anything to me, she was an example of kindness. An example to live honestly through your pain, but to do your best to be light in the meantime.
Missing you, Grams.