I pour out this continuing saga to you, so that the weight of it will not pull me right down to the ground. I don't want to abuse your listening ears and yet... you are a help and a relief.
It hasn't escaped me that the early grieving for my grandmother is becoming tangled up in my little heart with losing my Dad.
I clearly see that before that time, I didn't know grieving and how it worked.
I clearly see now that I wish none of us ever had to learn.
As a dear friend told me back then, you wade through it - and the wading has begun. Wading and waiting.
I spoke with my grandmother last week. Spoke to her, would be more accurate. Her hands are now curled with disuse, and the phone was propped beside her ear. I talked, she listened. I think. I cried, she listened. A spark came from her over two things I said: I told her about Cole's almost-dirty joke last week, and she uttered a gravelly chuckle and said "Oh yeah..." like normal. She always loved a colorful joke. Then, towards the end of that painful (for me) phone call, I spoke to her about the memories I have been posting here. She was interested briefly, and then slipped away again. My brother visited her over the weekend, and said she looks peaceful. That is a comfort.
And in the spirit of food being all things comforting, I think of her again.
I am 12, and we are riding through the middle of nowhere, eastern Carolina style. Rural NC does "nowhere" unbelievably well. I have been given the exciting treat of a day spent alone with my grandparents, and we are driving out to Engelhard, NC for the Engelhard Seafood Festival. Anything that can be pulled out of the Sound, marshes or ocean will be on display for tasting. I am timid of strange foods, and laugh at my grandmother's mantra that she will eat anything that doesn't get her first. True. She samples her way down the country fest, from fried frog legs to the tasty popcorn shrimp. Fried. Most all of it, fried. Until we come to the shark samples. Definitely not fried. The chunks of meat with the silver-gray skin flipped around the steel bowl, as the vendor showed his wares. Gig reached for a chunk. I curled my lip. She teased and taunted me, and I relented to take a tiny bit. Just so I could say I did. But I drew the line at gator.
We meander our way down the street, watching the people and listening to the sounds. Hyde County people have a peculiar accent. (Said the girl from 40 miles away... :)) Truly, it is like a Cockney-Brit come to the South. With a little brine water thrown in for character. I listen to the strange voices as my grandparents visit with cousins and family friends. I browse through some tee shirt racks, and my grandmother joins me. She chooses a festival shirt in palest pink for me. I smile and do not tell her that I do not often wear pink. We enjoy the day and then relax in the van as the evening rolls in. We head home. I, in my freshly-donned pink shirt, stretch out on the floor behind the captain's chairs in the front. I sing softly as I listen to them chat. They grow quiet and I sing louder. I am suddenly singing for them, a church song that is my favorite. I do not sing for people, I do not wear pink, and I do not eat shark. This day is otherworldly in my shy eyes.
I finish my sudden opus and it grows quiet in the dark van. We hear night sounds through the open windows.
"That was real nice, Beth-honey," she says quietly.