When I found out that my grandmother was in the hospital I started doing reiki treatments on her. For those of you unfamiliar with reiki, I'll simply explain that it is a healing energy. Reiki treatments can be administered for everything from heartburn to cancer, and that once a practitioner has been initiated to level two, the treatments can be done from a distance. I had an unusual experience when I did the second treatment on her. When I finished doing the standard hand positions, I took her hands and continued to allow the energy to flow into her. The scene however, changed from her lying in the hospital bed to us sitting, holding hands at her dining room table. The holding hands part was new, but sitting at the table is how I remember some of my most wonderful conversations occurring with her. As we talked, we told each other the things we wanted to say, and she told me that she was tired, and ready to go. After that she got up, and went up the stairs, as if to bed. It was also metaphorical in all the standard 'rising up' ways. I knew that she would not be with us long...
I did other reiki treatments after that, and she felt very peaceful, and her calm calmed me. I became more aware that she was ready to go with each subsequent treatment, but I couldn't tell my family, because they couldn't have stood hearing it at that point. With that in mind, I have been in mourning for my grandmother for almost three weeks. When she died Friday, it was almost a relief, because I knew she was ready, and even though she hadn't been communicating pain, her mental state had deteriorated drastically in the last month. Considering that she'd been sharp as a tack until then, I know she wouldn't have wanted to last long without her wits. I'm sure I would have taken it much harder than I already have if I didn't have that reiki-trance conversation with her.
I thought I'd be able to attend the funeral, but I am not. I was told earlier today, that no one expected me to come all the way from Texas with my toddler son to attend. I'm not sure if that made it easier or harder to not be there. I ordered the flowers yesterday, and was racked with sorrow and pain knowing how she would have loved having those flowers on the aforementioned dining room table. Stargazer Lilies. They just looked like her. I added three white long stemmed roses for myself and each of my two children. Gran always had rose bushes in her back yard. She loved flowers. I would call for her birthday each year, and she would always tell me how wonderful the azaleas and lilacs looked and smelled.
There is some minimal speculation that the house will be sold. She had recently commented to my uncle that she had lived there 50 years. I remember when she and my grandfather had the "title burning" celebration when they paid off the 30-year mortgage. I remember Easter-egg hunts in the backyard and lunches on the great big wrap-around porch when it rained and my dad and uncles carried the picnic table from the backyard so we could all still eat outside. I remember breaking out all the cushions for the porch furniture in the spring and sitting out for the first time of the season, rocking on the glider couch. I remember the one drawer that always had cookies in it, and the ever-present cooked kielbasa on the little kitchen table, which was always ready for a nibble. I remember decorating the Christmas tree and the many beautifully wrapped packages that only magically appeared on Christmas morning. I remember the pink bathroom with the starfish-mermaids on the wall and the smell of Norell and Jean Nate. I can't imagine never returning to that house. It's been the one constant of my entire life. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around never answering the phone again to hear, "Dear, it's Grandmother..." I can hear it now as I write this.
What's more, I'm not sure if the 21st century family that we've become, can survive without my grandmother's 20th century cohesive glue. With Gran's passing, I fear that we are like a very worn-out-kinda-broken couch that has had it's very nice slipcover whipped off. I'm finding out about rifts that I didn't know existed, and the ones that I did know about are much bigger and more vehement than I suspected. I wonder if the whole thing will be pitched in the dump without her there to smooth over the wrinkles.
One thing I can say for sure, is that it has opened a pathway for me to look at some things from my life and childhood that needed to be dealt with and changed. Introspection abounds in my grieving process. So Gran, I am eternally grateful for that.
My grandmother was the truest, most accurate, walking definition of the word 'Lady' that I have ever seen. Her obituary said that the world would be a little bit colder without her. I know mine will never seem quite as warm. I miss her deeply and will remember her kindness, generosity, grace, and intelligent 'southern-lady' genteel ways for the rest of my time on earth. My unimposing, yet astoundingly solid, rock is gone. And it has altered my universe. Not necessarily for the better.