So as much of a jerk as I am about my panicked existence and my issues and troubles and problems and as much as I want to defend and hold dear my right to that panic, it’s true that life has a way of knocking that shit into next week every now and then.
My grandmother is probably a month or so away from passing away. The nursing home called us directly today. It might be more than that and it may be a lot less. It may be a matter of days, so my father, her son, is getting ready to fly with my half-sister who can get cheap tickets up to Fargo and then to the farm to see her. We, it seems, will follow…when it happens. Bereavement days. We, I guess, are waiting for that and we’ll make the drive up there, my parents, my sisters, my little sister’s boyfriend and goodness knows, maybe the dog.
I think now about how arbitrary deadlines and signposts and benchmarks actually are. That my grandmother will never meet or know someone who fell in love with me or that I fell in love with is this stupid thought that is battering around in my head. It is a hugely bitter pill on top of the fact that I lose the gin rummy shark, the middle sister, the fierce liberal, the gossip queen, the dearheart, the supporter, the Norwegian cook with her lefse recipe we struggle to recreate, the clever woman who was able to survive and build a family out in rural country with so much determination and love. But I wasn’t waiting for that. I wasn’t worried about that and it hadn’t mattered to me, pushed me, until now that I see this is really happening, that there is no second chance. No way to say, hey, see, no, you have to wait for me. You have to wait for me to perfect my body and progress my spirit and let down my guard so that I can find someone worthy enough to bring to you for approval. You have to wait for my demands. It’s so laughable and stupid, it wasn’t a stipulation, but it is a consequence of my life and I have to accept that, too.
Because I want these notes, here’s what I’m thinking:
That she is battering around in her own mind, as Linda Pastan’s poem The Deathwatch Beetle mentions. That she is listless and weary, unable to walk mor than a few steps, not eating, that sooner or later Death will come and be welcome, that my memories of her are solid and true, if limited in number. That my father is both present in the fact we are losing her and also, somehow, a hundred thousand miles away. That my grandfather is stoic and a realist and none of us knows what that means for him, when his wife of 75 years leaves. That maybe it will not happen for a good while yet and I’m half-eulogizing someone I haven’t seen in over a year. That quiet time in the house when my grandparents slept that my parents and I just did puzzles on the silent front porch. The time before when my mother’s mother visited with us and we kids ran around and played with a bubble gun and rolled in the grass before worrying about ticks. That I am thinking about work deadlines and practicalities about leaving now or in advance of the festival. That my little sister broke down crying. That I felt the hot tears. That I still don’t get it.