Wednesday, January 11, 2012


and then she was gone.

the world feels a little bit lighter and a little bit lonelier.

quieter.  peaceful.  less rushed and busy and full of guilt of not being there this morning or this afternoon.  of feeling like we weren't giving her enough of our time and watching others give more.  more of the quiet and sitting in her room and wishing her life while wishing her passing on quietly. 

we were told hours.  and that was precisely what we had.  the knowledge pouring from people that seem to know so much more about the process of dying than us.  i'm not entirely certain that i want their knowledge.  but it was so nice of them to share at a moment when we needed to know. 

i knew of the hours.  shared the hours with you ... and tried to secure childcare after realizing that i really didn't feel that taking the kids with was a great idea.  childcare wasn't so easy to secure.  so i waited and readied the children for bedtime.  feeling rushed and full of angst.  short tempered and frustrated.

i sent the girly girls to watch television while i nursed the boy to sleep.

in the quiet ... i made myself peaceful and calm.  wished it upon myself.
and did.

i sang the ABCDEFGs and tinkle-tinkle-yittle-star and wheels-on-bus-wound-n-wound ... over and over.
he finally relaxed and slept.
i crept out and rushed the girly-girls into bed now that my dad had arrived.
my sister texted mom ... we're on our way. 
mom texted in response ... gma is gone.

hours spilled into minutes into seconds and drifted away.

we still went.

and we sat in her room while she laid there with her eyes open and her mouth agape and i watched her chest.  i knew that she was gone ... but i couldn't help but think about how her chest wasn't rising and falling with breath.  how i shouldn't be sitting in this room with a body.  how that's not just a body.  it's my grandma.  watching my mom ... more concerned with her and how she felt.  watching my aunts ... holding strong.  telling stories.  laughing.  all of us trying to keep the air light while stealing glances at her. 

or ... her body.

it's funny how you think that this is what you want for her ... but it's not what you want for us.  and how living is hard on the dying and how death is hard on the living. 

my mind flips and flops between it all.

we readied ourselves.  picked up our things.  and walked out. 

we walked out.

and honestly ... it was the hardest thing we did.  it was the hardest thing i did.  (i guess i can't speak for everyone else).  walking away and leaving her in the hospital room ... eyes wide open.  we left.  holding hands.  holding each other.  holding her belongings.  we walked out into the cold night.  feeling lost.  and light.  and heavy.
she's gone.

it's been days since i first started this post.  leaving you all hanging ... but i couldn't press the final publish post button. 

it didn't feel completely over yet.  i felt in between. 

i spent hours reading her life story that she had written long before her mind had forgotten it all.  pages and pages of happenings and dates and cities and names.  i poured over them and compiled the important pieces into a very condensed obituary.  i learned things about her and her family that i had never before known.  things that i'll likely share with you as i look into them further.  things that terrify me and enlighten me.  things that amaze me and astound me.  things. 

all of those things that happen between the once upon a time and the happily ever after. 


we traveled to where she was to be laid to rest.  we took her home. 

finn smiled when he saw grandma sleeping. 
i don't know how to explain that to an (almost) two year old.  we told him that grandma went bye bye.  he could repeat it.  but i'm not sure that he really knows.  but does he really need to?

we left her.
and it was so hard to walk away once again.  for the final time.  it was hard to leave her there in the cold windy air.  alone.  but not alone ... surrounded by her loved ones that preceded her.  brothers and parents.  my grandfather at her side.
i have a mason jar filled with flowers now ... sitting atop my refrigerator so that the cat doesn't chew them.  pink roses and snapdragons.  pink daisies and rose buds.  flowers that the kids gathered from her at her gravesite.  flowers that they held onto while watching our tears fall.  flowers that they carried across the state lines.  begging me to put into water just as soon as i was able ... so that they could hold onto them.

eventually those too will wilt and the petals will fall among the mess in the kitchen. 


Pamela said...

This is a spectacular piece of writing, and I really hate to have that be my opening statement here, because there is so much more rushing in my brain, even as tears are on my cheeks.

You are so very real here. Love. Respect. Dignity. It is all here and it is so true.

I love you lots, lady, and I'm holding you in my heart.

anymommy said...

Jen, I'm terribly sorry. Your grief and your peace and your pain are woven into every word of this. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post with us.

PsychMamma said...

What a beautiful tribute. Sending you love. xox

Naomi said...

Stunningly beautiful Jen. LOVE. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Annie said...

So sorry Jen. Very beautifully written. really. lovely.

Raising Z said...

Once again, another beautiful post. I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Cathi Finch said...

More than lovely eulogy to a most wonderful, loved grandmoter. My husband, John, is related to you. His mother Carrie Nesthus Finch Smith is your Grandfather Nesthus' brother. John's sister, Marlene Abraham, sent your much condensed life of your grandmother. Keep up the insightful, passionate and emphatic writings filled with light, love, laughter, and humanity.