It’s been several months now since the passing of my grandmother. Hers is a death that I was dreading and one that, in a year of many changes, was the last thing in the world that I wanted to have happen. In one’s youth, when left to our own devices to fantasize about adulthood, always furthest and obscured from our thoughts is the pain that comes along with being an adult. Sure, we can stay up as late as we want and do the things that we want, but they always come at a price. I wanted to believe that when I became an adult life would be easier, more in my control, simply more. But what I’ve found is that in the shroud and hope of our youth there sometimes lies the inability to cope with things in our adulthood.
Last year was a mess. We all have those trying times in life where up is down and things just don’t seem to add up. I went about the most trying year in my life enduring any number of emotions and frustrations. Everything I had known was flipped upside down. Losing my grandmother felt a bit like scenes in movies where the villain fires his finishing round into the heart. I’ve had my good days but never far from my mind was my grandmother and the realization that I am only moving farther away from the life that had her in it.
Loss of a loved one, of a life, of a job, of things that are important to you can affect you in ways that you simply never expected or prepared for. I’d spent much of my life only having a very small amount of people whom I was close to pass away. I suppose that’s the benefit and curse of my parents having had me at a young age. Only twenty years separates me from my mother and until my grandmother’s death, I’d not realized just how young my grandparents were when I was born. But beyond that, 2014 was a year that I felt the most like an adult as well as the most like a child. Moments, where in my youth I could crawl into my grandmother’s lap and have her soothing hand rub my back, were now replaced with seeing it all in the rearview mirror. The last time I saw her alive I spent time just looking at her as she gazed out at the palatial view from the veranda. The stroke had changed her but in quiet ways she was still the same grandmother who took care of me for most of my youth. I didn’t realize that her leaving would have far-reaching tentacles that five months later I’d still be caught up in.
In our adulthood there is a profoundness, a sometimes heaviness and realization that is lost on us in our youth. With the rose-colored glasses removed we see that the bills don’t just pay themselves, that the choices we make can affect us psychologically and emotionally but without the benefit of a grandmother’s steady hand and loving voice to soothe us. I’ve realized that despite periods of total and utter despair, I must soldier on. We must all do so as a testament to the ones that we have loved and lost, but also as a show of our true character. There are many days where I’d rather stay in bed, shut out the world and find some peace in slumber. And while it’s okay to have those moments, those moments to grieve, to reflect, to assess, it’s important that we don’t live there. As hard as it is we can’t live in the past, we can’t shoulder the grief of it for the entirety of our lives. We must learn to let it go.
When we are really grown we know that life is full of despair, full of ups and downs, sprinkled with moments of amusement and awe. When we are really grown we see that our memories are sometimes more clear and that the childhoods that we’d sometimes dreaded while living it, made us into adults with a much larger understanding of ourselves and of the lives that we lead. And although there is no way to avoid the pain and the difficulties that life sometimes bestows upon us, when we are really grown we know that it’s truly worth living and that it’s a part of life’s journey.
This article appeared on page 5A in the 2/25/15 issue of The Union-Recorder.