One of my girls and I were talking last night, via text, because she had been going through pictures to put up in her room, and finding one of her great-grandparents (my parents), coming right on the heels of a photo from her own parents’ wedding started a cascade of thoughts tinged with sorrow for all the life events still to come that “gramma” won’t be there to share with her: her own wedding, the birth of her babies, all the little everyday joys and sorrows.
Even as I reassured her that gramma would be there, and that crying because you miss her isn’t selfish, and how gramma always told me that tears were healing, I was remembering the last time the sorrow had taken me unawares like that. I had put it away, then, the suddenly-fresh-again grief and longing, wrote it out and stored the file away on my hard drive to let time blunt the edges of it.
Yet, within the ache of missing her were also seeds of joy and hope and thanksgiving for the gift that was gramma, my mama ~ so I looked up the file this morning and am posting it here, pretty much as it was originally written, for Quinn, now, and for any of the rest of gramma’s kids, whenever you might need it ~
In the restaurant where we were having supper tonight, I heard Mama’s voice say “Well, Hello!” in that lilting, happy way she had when we would meet up somewhere or run into each other unexpectedly. I looked up with the beginnings of a welcoming smile before I remembered.
Then I craned my neck, trying to see the lady who had spoken to the people she was joining in the next booth, even knowing . . . well, just . . . knowing. Foolish. I told myself that, and several other things, as my throat locked down and the bridge of my nose began to sting. Foolish to think that it was her, and foolish to be disappointed that it wasn’t, when I know so well that it couldn’t be.
I cast about for some other occupation for my thoughts, trying to reason with myself, largely without words, over the next several seconds. Also foolish. My head has never held much sway over my heart when the two disagree. But at least the sudden shower was quiet and relatively short, and somehow James knew after a moment, what it was about, though he didn’t know the trigger.
That was 45 minutes ago, and we’re home now. We even stopped at the pet food store for kitty stuff, and looked at fish and bunnies and birds, and as we were driving home I was mostly okay. But the weight of tears was still in my chest, the tears that haven’t yet escaped making my throat feel raw and sore, and a line from a movie I haven’t seen in years just appeared in my head, a line equally weighted with sorrow: it’s a pay-as-you-go world.
It is. And sometimes the coin you have to pay with is sorrow. And I was thinking, but I haven’t done anything to have to pay for.
Then, just now, as I was writing this ~ because that’s what I do when something moves me deeply and I haven’t anything else to immediately claim my attention, write it out ~ and as I did, I realized: bad things aren’t the only things you pay for in this life.
It’s only been a little over six months since mama went on. I was blessed with her love and laughter for 55 years. 55 years with Mama just a phone call or a few blocks away, and a lifetime of joyful memories to carry me through the rest of it. All that against the few times I am taken unawares like this, when the bill unexpectedly comes due in sorrow that takes my breath away.
It is a pay as you go world, but for all that, these tears are such a small price.
I love you, Mama, and sometimes I miss you so much ~ but that’s all right. You were, and are, more than worth it. ~ January 25, 2013
Like gramma did, and does, I love you, kids, each and every one of you ~ always ~