Grief

It's kind of funny. I hadn't seen her much over the last ten years. I don't live there anymore and our visits were limited to the odd hour here and there when I was home for a visit. But there's a hole in my life and in my heart because she's not here anymore.

It was the knowledge of always knowing that she was there. When I was a kid she was always in her kitchen. Or at bingo. After my grandfather died she lived with us for awhile. We even shared a bedroom. Then she bumped around, staying with my aunts and uncles until settling into her retirement home seven or eight years ago.

She was present. She was the glue that bound us together. She was the matriarch.

Now she's gone and I'm feeling lost.

I don't think I've let myself grieve.

While she was in the nursing home, while we sat vigil, I decided it was not the time for tears. Her room in palliative care was not the place for me to breakdown. It was place for remembering her strength and pulling on some of it for myself. I was there for my mother and sister as much as I was there for myself and my tears had no place there. My mother didn't need to deal with my tears on top of everything else. I didn't know whether to wish that she'd go quickly or if she's defy us all, doctors included, and wake up and tell us all off for thinking she'd leave us.

I didn't allow myself to cry at my sister's place when I was home alone there. I was scared that once I started I might not stop. I didn't want my puffy eyes to betray me when I went back to the nursing home to sit with my grandmother and pick up my mother from her overnight shift of sitting with her. If my mother could sit with her all night, getting by on just three hours of sleep a night for a week, I could hold to my tears.

We were called into the room for the last moments of my grandmother's life. I couldn't stay. I couldn't stand. I couldn't breathe. I ran outside and sat on a bench and sobbed, alone in my grief. A few minutes later I pulled myself together and returned inside. Later, before the undertaker took her away, I kissed my grandmother goodbye for the last time.

I allowed myself to cry a little during the funeral. I allowed myself to cry again driving to the airport, alone on the highway. When I told Lee that when we are in PEI I want to put flowers on the grave that she and my grandmother share my voice cracked. And I'm crying now.

I don't know how to grieve. I never have. To grieve feels selfish. I feel the need to be strong, to push the tears down and fight grief.

Perhaps it's because if I grieve it really means she's gone and I can't imagine a world in which she does not exist, except in our memories and hearts.

I just know that sometimes the thought that of her being gone hits me so hard that I don't know how to breathe. I feel like I wasted so much time and I wonder if she knows how much she was loved.