My grandmother passed. I didn’t cry. I couldn’t, my emotions were blocked.
I knew as I was standing in front of my Nona looking at her lie peacefully in eternal rest that I would never see her again, never eat her pizzelle again, never feel her love again. Still no sadness.
My brother is mourning. My father, aunts, uncles, cousins, all mourning. Not me. I am a statue.
Watching People Mourn
This goes on for an hour, I watch people mourn and I envy them. Consciously I close my eyes, I clear my mind – I summon a dark green smoke to cloud my thoughts. I push pictures of memories of Nona through the fog. My memory is strong. I have a lot of pictures to look at. One at a time like flash cards.
“Sir, please sir”. Someone is waking me from my thoughts. It’s one of my brothers, Stephen, he sits beside me, “this one is easier than Grandpa’s isn’t it?”
Still lost in my memories “yeah, it is. Why? Why don’t I feel sad?”
Stephen in his insightful way “Kids, it’s hard to think about death when you are surrounded by complete happiness”.
Maybe that’s his way of saying, ‘it’s OK to not be sad’. But that’s not true, I am sad.
Looking around I see at least a dozen children dressed in dark clothes holding hands running, tumbling, laughing, making fun from sadness. The adults aren’t stopping it. Grandparents come by to their grandchildren and hug them and smile and offer water and treats to keep their energy up.
Standing, we embrace. I can’t tell him that it’s the emotional void inside my frozen heart that keeps me from feeling grief.
He doesn’t know what to say
He turns and walks to his children tumbled on the floor, smiles at them exchanges a few words and walks on, leaving them to play.
I cannot summon my grief.
The afternoon viewing comes to and end.
Back to the hotel for a brief stop. My wife and children stay. I go back to the funeral home for a second viewing that evening.
That’s how my heart feels. Blank. A frozen void incapable of emotions.
I go back to the hotel. Meet up with Andrew, my brother, we talk about his upcoming wedding. We talk about money. We talk about time. We talk about houses. Then it gets to the time where we are both done talking and we part ways.
Back in my hotel room I walk in and the sound of deep peaceful sleep breathing washes over me. The unmistakable melody of children sleeping. I walk to them and give them each a silent kiss. After a few minutes I am ready to climb into bed. My wife is sleeping in the beautiful way she does.
Alarm softly wakes me up. The chaos is carefully held in check by two experienced parents. Starbucks for breakfast, then into suits and dresses and get ready to check out. Emotions are in check.
Get to the funeral home.
Hugs, kisses and mourning are everywhere.
Not here. My heart is blank, frozen.
The priest says a brief prayer, funeral home director gives us some directions and allows family to say their final goodbye.
I walk up to Nona, kneel in front of her. That’s when it all settles in. Nona is gone and I missed the last five years of her life.
I cry – I sob. It all comes out. My heart breaks and my world changes.
The New Me
I will focus on family and less on work. And it actually happened, it’s not just something I thought or said. It was a real paradigm shift. My priorities actually changed.
I felt heavy and light. Heavy because of everything I missed, light because I knew my path forward and it was the right path.