In the million-ty years since we've last spoken, internet, I feel like a million-ty things have happened. Most of them bad. Some good! But bad. Still all the bad happened. On New Year's Eve, while I was incredibly busy on the couch watching non-stop episodes of Breaking Bad (I'm not kidding. The entire first season in one night), my grandpa died. He just died, like that. I was eating pizza rolls and Sour Patch Kids, snooping on the neighbors, who were causing a ruckus outside, and my grandpa died. I didn't find this out until the next morning when I awoke to a call from mom, incredibly reminiscent of when my other grandpa died while I was in college: a phone call from mom to break the bad news. Why is it when you wake up to a phone call it's usually bad news?
My parents chose to wait until morning to tell my sister and I, as to not affect the joy of New Year's Eve. In hindsight, I appreciate that. I do. Not that I was doing anything particularly exciting on New Year's Eve (though Breaking Bad is ridiculously good, you guys), I now feel like I got that one quiet night to myself to enjoy the simple things. Like pizza rolls and Aaron Paul. Because once I woke up to the bad news, the rest of the month would continue to be bad news.
When mom said, "Grandpa died last night," I remember saying, "okay," then taking a moment to take a breath. We knew he'd been having heart troubles; it wasn't entirely unexpected. But those are still words that hit you in the gut. As soon as I thought of my dad, who, with those words, had officially lost his father, I cried like a baby. Dads aren't supposed to be sad. Dads are dads. Dads are the backbones of the family unit. When I thought of my dad, now having to handle the loss of a parent, I felt sick to my stomach. We all did -- my mom, sister and I. Dad spent the following days in his hometown making arrangements with his siblings, while we counted the days until the funeral.
The worst part about grandpa's death is that, for the life of me, I cannot remember the last time I saw him. The last photo I have with him is from my wedding in 2007. Could it really have been nearly six years (and a divorce) since I saw my grandpa? Did he even remember me? Did it matter? I felt terrible. And sad. That set of grandparents has always lived hours (if not states) away, so visits were few and far between as I got older. I regret that now. We got to see and hug and reconnect with my dad's relatives at the memorial service, and that's the one blessing to come from the entire situation. I've since written my grandma a handwritten note simply to keep in touch, and I'm not going to let that act of kindness dissipate.
The day, while it included many tears, ended in smiles and relief and thankfulness that all the horrible was behind us. Thank god. I went home that night, watched the Packers with one of my best friends, and went to sleep peacefully.
And then I woke up to another phone call from my mom.
My grandma, this time on my mom's side, had taken a turn for the worst, and I needed to head home to say goodbye.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
This time I was big and brave and drove the hour home, preparing myself for something that was, again, not entirely unexpected, but still entirely devastating. I hadn't even cried. I got all the way home with my brave face, perhaps still in denial that yesterday I was at my grandpa's funeral, and now today I have to say goodbye to the grandma with whom I spent nearly my entire childhood. Dad greeted me when I walked in the door, and the first thing I asked was whether mom was home. She wasn't, of course, as she was already at the nursing home with her mom.
So then I melted. I remember crying something about the unfairness of it all and probably said "dammit" a time or two, all while my dad, who was still busy mourning his own dad, gave me a hug.
I said goodbye to my grandma that day, who'd had a major stroke the afternoon before my grandpa's funeral. Again, my mom didn't want to break that news to my sister and I while we were at a funeral already. Grandma couldn't talk by then, but I could see recognition in her eyes when I kissed her on the top of her head and told her I loved her. And that will be the memory I have forever of the last time I saw my grandma. Though she miraculously improved for a few days after that Sunday, she died 10 days later. I learned the news, once again, in a phone call. This time from dad.
I cried hard that night. Although I'd had 10 days to process what was happening, the grief that hit me once it actually happened knocked me on my ass. In two weeks' time I'd lost half of my grandparents, and I'm now down to one.
For my grandma's 84th birthday nearly five years ago, I wrote this blog post, which I was asked to read during the memorial. Don't worry, I sobbed the entire time. Like, snot dripping off my face onto my dress kind of sobs. Now I have plants in my (new) office from her memorial. My grandma died, and I got plants and an orphaned mother.
And now here we are. It's been a month since anyone's died in my family (and that trend may continue, please), but its effects still linger. My mom's sad. My dad's probably sad, but it's hard to tell because, like I said, dads aren't sad. They're sad in secret. I now have dried roses and photos and obituaries strewn throughout my apartment. Everywhere I look there is a sad thing to see. Grandma left me her necklace that she wore every day of nearly forever. A necklace I wore on my wedding day, and a necklace I remember hanging from her neck even when I was a child. I've taken it off exactly two times since my mom clasped it around my neck. I don't want to take it off. Not ever. It's small and delicate, and I have about 19 panic attacks a day when I feel for it on my neck and it takes just a second too long to find it. But it's mine now, and that's the most special thing ever in the entire world.
So that's what's been happening since the New Year. The year 2013 decided to greet us with a swift kick to the face, twice. I've been meaning to share all of these things in the last several weeks, but it never felt right. Like maybe I just wasn't ready to. I'd rather not have had reason to write them all, but such is life.
I promised you good things have happened, too. So here they are, in no particular order: I got to move into my own pretty office, I turned 31 and had a splendid birthday, and I was given a raise at work. I've yet to receive a unicorn in this lifetime, but time will tell.