Shutting a door hurt. It really hurt. I breezed through the first 6 weeks after Grandma died, only to crash and burn something awful last week. By the time Friday came around, I had found hell again, that old familiar short-tempered and sulky me, and I just wanted to wall myself in.
A friend called Thursday and asked me to visit with him and his family for the weekend. I accepted. Good mental hygiene.
So, knowing I was going to be gone from Friday evening on, I bought a fresh bouquet of flowers and went to visit Grandma's grave.
She wasn't there. I mean, I go to her grave, and Grandpa's right next to it, and I can feel them there, I can talk to them and they answer back, and it keeps the loss and loneliness from getting under my skin.
But they weren't there this time. They were gone, moved on.
That hurt as much as giving up the key. No, it hurt more. I felt entirely homeless and abandoned.
So I crashed, and kept spiralling down.
I called my friend Friday night and said I wasn't coming. I was on the phone for half an hour and said 10 sentences. If you know me, you'll know that that is not a good sign. My talking is a barometer. I'm silent only when sleeping, sick or miserable. (Well, I haven't blogged much lately, have I.)
My friend called again Saturday to see if I'd had a change of heart, to see if I was all right. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the clouds were decorating the blue sky perfectly, and the temperature was actually pleasant and summery. I had a nice, short talk with my friend and felt inspired to go take a walk. I did not feel inspired to visit anyone.
I recharged my camera, and took myself off in the sunshine of a late afternoon. I noticed that autumn had arrived, and I was wondering when the heck did that happen? I also wished I had someone to walk with, companionship.
That's when Grandma showed up next to me, and next to her was Grandpa, and walking right in front of me like she always did in life, was Sammy.
All my loved ones on the walk with me. I was delighted. Then I had questions. Grandpa appeared to me as he had looked when I was little. Grandma kept appearing to me as she looked on a photograph with Grandpa, where the two of them are laughing themselves silly. A delightful photo. But why those ages now?
Grandpa's choice was to appear as he looked when he first met me, because that was one of his happiest moments. (He met me in the hospital when I was a newborn, accompanied by Grandma.) Grandma chose to appear as she looked when my mother was a baby.
"But that was one of the worst periods in your life, Grandma," I said. Grandma was widowed while still pregnant with my mother and she also had a toddler; earlier, Grandma had lost 3 siblings at various ages, and had even had a couple of miscarriages. And yet she managed to soldier on, and ended up very happy. So however bad things seem right now, it's all temporary, and I will get through it. She just wanted me to know that, and that's why she chose that age.
A real life kid startled my dead cat, breaking the "magic", so I said goodbye to my spirit companions, grateful for their being there for me. I had a fabulous walk and thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures, a hobby Grandpa introduced me to.
And so I realize I am not abandoned. My loved ones are definitely still here for me, and I will not dwell in hell forever.