August, please be merciful.
I don’t think I’m being melodramatic in saying that the month of July in the year of 2013 may have been the worst calendar month I have ever experienced. At least emotionally. It’s over. Today is August. Thank you for coming August.
I usually quite enjoy the month of July. It rides the jetstream of June which is undeniably the best month of the year. It starts with a bang – literally – with fireworks for the Fourth, plays host to the day of my father’s birth and ends with Harry Potter. It also has long, luxurious days of sunshine and summer is always a time for happiness. If by always I mean mostly because this year July did not bring me joy as it has in the past.
I said good-bye to two very influential women in my life. When July began I had two grandmothers. At the close of the month, I am without both of them. And while I can tell you without a doubt that they both lived full, long lives, it doesn’t stop the ache left by their absence.
My Nan fought a short battle with cancer. We knew she didn’t have much time left, but her decline was extremely rapid. One evening she was alert and chatty and the next evening she was gone. She’s been saying for the last year that she was waiting for the birth of my brother’s first child. His daughter was born forty-five minutes before Nan passed away.
Grandma Dillon had been sick for a while. She suffered from a major stroke over ten years ago, but in the last few years, her health began declining more rapidly. I was blessed to spend her last day by her bedside. She died the next morning two weeks to the day after my Nan and while her oldest son, my Dad, was undergoing major surgery.
They were both strong, stubborn women. And, though it’s rare that I admit it, I have a lot of each of them in me. I can be stubborn and opinionated and set in my ways. I love fiercely, but don’t always know how to show it. I can be critical and, though it’s something I am working on in myself, sometimes cruel in my criticisms. Nan blessed me with good, thick hair. And Grandma Dillon graced me with an ample bosom and blue eyes.
I fought with both of my grandmothers. I don’t think this is normal. I don’t think most people fight with their grandmothers. I did. And this wasn’t always wise as they could both hold grudges. And, as terrible as this may sound, in these last few weeks I sometimes find myself trying to focus on the negatives to avoid crying on my drive to work or breaking down in the check-out line. It’s easier.
I didn’t expect this internal reaction to the loss of their physical presence, but I feel distant, remote, and constantly emotional. And by emotional I mean always on the precipice of tears.
There are some things that I hope will stick with me though – good things. For Nan it might be macaroni and cheese, Shirley Temple movies, campfires, Bingo, Bob Evans, or the song You are my Sunshine. Definitely the song. And I’ll think of Grandma Dillon whenever I see beautiful flower gardens, fire ants, homemade biscuits, or smell the scent of Autumn.
Thank you to you both for all that you were. And all that you continue to be for every life that you touched while you were still with us.
Post Script: I don’t mean to make light of these losses and if my tone in any way suggests that then just know that we all handle grief in different ways. In addition to everything mentioned above, my niece spent the first week of her life in the NICU, my employer offers no bereavement leave, my transmission blew on my way home from my Nan’s service, and my husband still isn’t home from Georgia – where he’s been all summer. All in one month. All in a matter of two weeks, really. So, all things considered, I think I’m handling everything pretty well.