Over the weekend my family got together to finally put my grandma's ashes to rest in a plot next to my grandpa. And yes, I just did the same thing last month for my other grandpa, because yes, when it rains, it pours, which we learned back in January.
The experience brought up a lot of interesting feelings about death. That sounds morbid. I guess death is pretty morbid, but I swear I'm not brooding relentlessly, looking for a deeper meaning to life and death. I just feel... confused.
On a run over the weekend, a friend asked which situation was "easier," for lack of a better word: having a chance to say goodbye to my grandma before she died, or having no notice and simply waking up to the news that my grandpa died suddenly the night prior.
I don't know if I have a real answer to that because saying goodbye is hard. How do you feel and what do you say and how do you convey the right sentiment to someone when you know you're speaking for the last time? That's impossible. It's impossible and sad. But it was a blessing because I have that. I know exactly where I was and how I felt and what I said when I told my grandma goodbye for the final time. I sort of hate it, but I have it. Finality.
My grandpa was another story. I woke up on New Year's Day to news that he collapsed the night before. He was gone. And you know what? I don't even remember the last time I saw my grandpa. I live with a horrible feeling in my gut that he didn't know I cared. That won't go away because what if he didn't know? I don't know that. No one knows that. I don't even remember a conversation, nonetheless a goodbye.
So, you know, I guess I do know my answer. Having a chance to say goodbye is easier. Sort of. Or maybe I just need to be more mindful of my time with the people I love. With my family and friends. It's a lesson, I suppose. It feels very dramatic to assume that every goodbye is a forever goodbye, but maybe hug a little tighter. Remember more. Talk longer and listen harder.
Also, both my grandma and grandpa were cremated, which led to memorial services full of photos and mementos, as opposed to open-casket, full-fledged funerals, and of course the burying of the ashes. I've struggled with that concept, too.
I was 19 when I lost my first grandparent, and I will never - ever - forget how horrified I felt walking into the funeral parlor to see my grandpa in a casket. I was terrified and sad and an explosion of feelings that can't be described. But in the end, that was closure. The funeral, the viewing, the burial. Morbid and sad and scary, but official.
I don't feel like I have that this time around. Instead there were ashes in a plastic bag that turned my stomach to think about. I have a weird sense of a lack of closure.
But really, what's the difference? The lesser of two evils? Feeling scared of a casket or scared of the ashes? I have no idea. I guess what I've learned today is death is impossible. There's no easy way to deal with it, is there? That doesn't seem like such a hard lesson to learn, but alas. It takes me some time to learn things. I only recently learned how to attach photos to emails sent from my phone. So.
One day when it's my turn, rocket me into outer space. Seems the most reasonable option.