Bye-bye Grandma

November 21st, 2010 § 3 comments

The moments catch me off-guard,
like my brother used to do
when we were kids.

He’d lay in wait
around the corner
in the hallway upstairs,
behind the jog in the corridor
outside my bedroom.

He would leap out,
scaring me,
terrifying me,
and I would scream
and shake
and cry.

That’s what these moments do:
they make me
and shake
and cry.

Last night it was Paige,
with her round angelic face,
eyes pink with tears bursting,
coming into the kitchen while I was on the phone with my parents.

“I went to the computer…
to send some email to some friends…
and all of the emails from her are there…
there’s just a whole list of emails from her there…
it just says ‘Barbara Adams’ the whole way down…
and I just keep thinking how she’s never going to write me back…”

And so we cried.
And we talked.

I was cleaning the kitchen,
packing up backpacks,
doing things I thought were “safe.”
I thought I would be protected from
emotional assault.

I opened Colin’s green homework folder and
put in his math assignment.
A sheet was already inside the folder,
a red squiggly crayon line decorating one edge.

I pulled out the paper with reckless abandon,
expecting an innocent scribble,
a wasted silly drawing.

But instead, it was a piece of writing paper.
On it, neatly printed in his finest handwriting,
it said, “Bye-Bye Grandma”
and there was a tombstone shape in the middle
that said “Barbara Adams 2009.”

There were green zig zags on the top and bottom,
red squiggles on the left and right,
bright colors all around.

I wasn’t ready for it.
I didn’t know it was there,
in the shadows,
coiled to take advantage when I dropped my guard,
waiting for me to be vulnerable.

And so I acted just like I did when I was a
child and my brother scared me.
I screamed.
I shook.
And I cried.

I vowed not to let my guard down like that

I love you, Paige.
I love you, Colin.
I love that you loved your Grandma so much.
I loved her too.
I miss her too.

And my hurt may dull a bit,
but it’s never going to go away,
because some of my hurt is for you.

It hurts not only that I don’t have Grandma in my life,
but also that you don’t.
And that’s what makes me cry the most,
because I know how much she loved you both,
and little Tristan too.

One day
we’ll have to explain to him just how special she was
and how much she loved him
and all of the the special things she did to show it.

Thinking about the fact that she’s not going to be here to
show him for herself just breaks my heart…

It makes me want to
and shake,
and cry.

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§ 3 Responses to Bye-bye Grandma"

  • As you know, I experienced the same thing this week. Grief over my best friend dying almost two years ago that hit me so unexpectedly and strongly and it lasted for over a week…crying at the oddest times; heavy, wracking sobs or just a few. I miss her a lot and think of her often, but this was the first time that it hit like this. So long. So strong. So draining.

  • Wow… this made me cry. This poem is so beautiful and it resonated deeply with my experience with my grandmother’s death. The aftershocks were almost harder than the initial grief.
    I especially loved this:
    “I wasn’t ready for it.
    I didn’t know it was there,
    in the shadows,
    coiled to take advantage when I dropped my guard,
    waiting for me to be vulnerable.”
    This is gorgeous writing and speaks to my soul. The repetition of the reaction from your childhood to your brother throughout the poem strengthens it deeply.
    Amazing work.

    Note – i messed up the html on my first try quoting you, so don’t approve the other comment. This is html-free and what I wanted to say

  • In the days just after the accident I interviewed Barbara’s children thinking they would want to talk about their mother. I have recorded some of their answers to my questions. You know, Lisa, in retrospect I think that experience was more for my dealing with the shock and grief I felt than it was for them. They think I have some project in mind. I would like to write an article about it but will check with Chip first.
    Your poem on this post is so touching. I know Barbara meant a lot to Paige, Colin and to all of her grandchildren, each of whom she welcomed joyfully.

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