Seeking: Comfort and Joy

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I don’t know what to write.  I feel a little dizzy from everything that’s happened and everything that’s happening.

I know it’s Christmas, but I feel a little like I’m floating.

There’s a lot of beauty and a lot of pain and a lot of time rushing by quickly, blurry.  I’ve been moving endlessly, and the few moments of peace I want to savor and clasp onto like trinkets.

A week ago I got back from a five day trip from Georgia to Tennessee to North Carolina and back to Georgia.  It was beautiful and sweet and fast and so Southern and foreign to me, Northern girl that I am.  But spending time with Chris’s family was a hoot.  When we went to Andy’s (Chris’s brother) MBA graduation at University of Tennessee, we also took a little sojourn to the classroom where Papa Joe and Mama Joan met.  Where he asked her all those years ago if he could read along with her because he forgot her book, and she said, “Only if you’ll dance at my wedding.”  To which he said, “Not only will I dance, I’ll be the groom.”  They’ve been married for 51 years.  We took a photo of them at the door of the classroom.

Other memories:  Mama Joan, giddy on red wine (picture it with a fabulous Tennessee accent: “Gotta have some wiiiine”) and forgetting the rules to poker again and again.  Papa Joe showing me his world map in the basement stairwell, with little flags for his sons, for me and my family, for Obama out in the Pacific Ocean (“out in left field”…Fox news, y’all), and for all the Ebola outbreaks.  And crazy great live music wherever we went in Knoxville on Saturday night, including a band in Santa hats singing The Band, Bob Dylan, Springsteen (did they know I was coming???  and who were you?  you were incredible).

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Then it was back to California for two long hard days of house cleaning work and then my birthday on Wednesday.  28.  I’ve hardly had a moment to reflect on it.  Another time.  But I know we had green juices and shepherd’s pie and a fruit tart and Birdman and it was wonderful and quiet.

Then Thursday I flew to Milwaukee and slept at my brother’s apartment where he and his roommate keep 90% of their clothes on their bedroom floors, and where, when you move a certain tupperware container on their kitchen counter, approximately 17 small flies swarm up.  Bongs and Cheetos galore.  Three flatscreen TVs with no explanation and two microwaves so they can nuke their food simultaneously. But, hey, it was walking distance to Beans and Barley, so how could I complain?

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And now here I am at home in Neenah, wondering what I should say, or shouldn’t, about what’s going on.  Everything is up in the air.

So here it is: My grandfather (my mom’s father) is in the last days of his life.  He’s dying.

I said it.  There.

We don’t know what’s going to happen any given day.  He’s been up and down, active at times, and at other moments curled up like he could pass at any moment.

It’s been happening for months.  Hospice has been there for a couple weeks.

We’re leaving tomorrow for Michigan to stay with him and my grandma indefinitely.  My mom has been coming and going for weeks.  When he passes, we’ll take my grandma home with us.

I don’t know.  How many details really matter?

He matters.  His life details matter.  But now is not the time.

I can’t say anything well or accurate about it now.  It feels too sensitive and too raw and unsolved.

It’s hard.  I’m afraid of seeing him, but I also want to bring him kindness and peace by being near him.  I want to play him Christmas songs on the piano.

It’s hard.  My dad passed away almost six years ago now.  I’ve been through this.  But it’s different.  My dad passed so quickly from cancer.  He was 53.  It was so different.  My grandpa rises and falls.  He is 86.  Hospice doesn’t really know what to think of it.  He might make it to Christmas or he may not make it through tonight.

Life is blurry.  My mom and I meandered through the mall today, exhausted, picking up last minute gifts and food to bring my grandparents, my mom endlessly rattling off To Dos, her mind scattered and frantic.

I don’t know.  The good moments are precious and sweet when they come, so you try to enjoy them.  South Park and New Girl with my brother.  Buying donut holes at Festival Foods with my mom and eating them in the car.   Beautiful snowy Finn.  Sitting in my family room right now with a fire going and a small Christmas tree glittering.  Going out to celebrate our birthdays tonight as a family of four that used to be five.  Always, those numbers in my head.  Five to four.

Here we go.  This entry was rambling.  It’s what I have.  A blurry mind, searching for joy in the corners.

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