I've been thinking about death and life lately. And how for most of those big moments, I remember where I was when I got the "news".
October 1995, 4th grade, green monkey bars at the OC Elem School: my mom came to tell me that my niece Jenna was born. (She is now 17....how did that happen??)
September 1997, 6th grade, Mr. Hupke's math class: breaking down in tears because I didn't get my homework done because my Grandma died the night before. He told me it was the best excuse he had ever heard.
March 1999, 7th grade, Mr. Yaw's math class: bragging to him that my nephew Grant was born.
September 2006, basement of my sister's house: pacing while my mom told me that Sharon spent her last moments surrounded by her family.
April 5, 2007, at my sister's house in the "mudroom": text from my BIL- Kennedy Grace was born! About an hour later- a call from my friend: I'm engaged!!!
September 2007, day after Labor Day: my apartment in St. Anthony: phone call from my mom...Bob & Rhonda were visiting Grandpa and left to grab food and came back...Grandpa was gone.
December 2010, parking lot of Pump It Up with my nanny girls: returning a missed phone call from my little sister and I knew in the back of my head what was coming....Grandpa didn't make it through the night.
I wonder more about death...mostly because I wonder how I want my last days to be...
My Grandma Niemeyer was "knock on wood healthy" a day or two before dying from a heart attack. No time for goodbyes. Guilt and regret flooded my 12 year old mind. Why didn't I spend more time with her when they came to visit us at the campground? I should have "loved her more" even though she didn't have the candy dish like Grandma Netten. Both of my Grandpas really suffered...but we got to say goodbye.
My only living Grandma will never walk again. She is now confined to a wheelchair. And it breaks my heart.
I last saw her on Labor Day on my way from the campground. I was wearing a baseball cap, hospital gown and gloves. She called me Dawn and when I gently corrected her, she felt so bad.
But then said, "you are not married and don't have kids, right?"
"That's right Grandma."
"I just hate it that I can't keep everything straight."
"There are a lot of us Grandma to keep track of!"
"I know, but I want to remember. It's embarrassing."
I almost started crying for her. The thought of losing her is so painful to me. I know I cry easily, but tears run down my face. And even though I know without a doubt in my mind the place she will be going is so much better...my heart still hurts. And she is not dying, but my mind goes there.
And I wish I knew how to grieve better or that I felt like I was "allowed" to grieve. I saw a counselor a couple years ago and she told me I had never properly grieved for the losses I had experienced. It was all bottled up inside. So I need to remember that crying is good. Talking about the people we miss is good.
It is healing.
I've been going through a book called, "Grace for the Good Girl." Last night I was reading it and the following struck me strongly:
"The fact that I needed healing did not mean I was horrible; it meant I was human. We all share a common frailty, but the good girl won't let me take part. She has both held me back from facing weakness and shoved me forward to fake strong."
I wish I could have read that back in 2006...again in 2007...and so on. So much healing was missed because I was wearing a mask of "yes, I am strong and everything is okay."
Until I could hold on no longer.
I fell. And I fell hard.
And then I tried to wear the mask again and was pretty "successful" at it.
Until I broke it.
June 2008: my bedroom at my sister's house, Finals Week. There was no way I was going to get my project done. I broke down. I couldn't do it -LIFE- anymore. But I didn't know what to do. Or who to admit my failures/ weaknesses/ fears/ etc to. I couldn't imagine putting that burden on anyone else.
And I had forgotten there is One who wants my burdens and asks for it all.
The mask stays in my closet.....because I am the "good girl".
I long for it to be destoyed.
But my "need" for control keeps it there.
My fear of disappointing others.
My fear of failure.
My lack of trust.
The list goes on and on. But I know my God covers this list. His grace extends so far it is beyond me.
It is so unbelievable that you have to believe.