Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's Been A Month Since Nana Died and I Know I'll Be Okay

It's been a month since Nana died. As I told a friend last night, my world has been turned upside down and inside out. I don't know which way is up or where I'm going most of the time.

A month ago I felt numb and I had 10 million things to do for a two visitations, two Celebration of Life services, and a burial, dealing with two funeral homes, two churches, and a lot of family across a bunch of states. On top of that, I was headed straight to the Mary Kay Seminar in Texas 30 seconds after we buried Nana. Okay, it was the next day, but it felt like 30 seconds later.

I didn't have time to be sad or begin to grieve. Yes, I was sad and I did have moments that were unbelievably difficult. The first time I walked into the sanctuary at Crystal Beach Community Church after Mom and I met with Pastor Susie, my eyes filled with tears. So much of my life has taken place in that church that walking into it without Nana even when it was empty was filled with emotion. Driving by my step-grandfather's house next door to the church brought back 30+ years of memories. Walking out to the end of the pier reminded me of all the sunsets I watched with Nana over the years.

It all really hit me for the first time though on Nana's birthday when I arrived at the church before Mom and Dave to set up for the reception. I walked into the sanctuary alone and saw Nana in her casket up by the pulpit. I saw the pew she sat in for 50 years, the one in memory of my grandfather, Jesse Paulk. It felt empty without her sitting in the pew. Although it is the 5th pew from the front, Mom, Dave, and I sat there during the service. There simply wasn't anywhere else we could sit.

I can't say I remember all the details of any of Nana's services. Mom and I both spoke. The music and the readings were beautiful. Many people told me touching stories of their time with Nana.

A month later, I'm in full grieving mode. The tears arrive when I least expect them and mostly with little warning. Fortunately, I'm usually able to choke them back when it's not appropriate to cry (i.e., when I'm with friends or clients). There's only one friend I've really cried in front of and I'm grateful beyond words for him. Usually I tough it out.

Yesterday, I met with a new client who shared with me that she had just moved to Arlington Heights from Florida and when I asked where, she replied Tarpon Springs. She didn't know Nana though. As I picked my jaw up off the table, she told me her son was born on July 12th. Wow. What a small world.

The good news is that last night I reached a point where I could tell a story about Nana and laugh at how cute and funny it was without crying. Later, I stood outside watching the Perseid Meteor Shower and upon seeing an enormous meteor shoot from north to south across the sky leaving a trail with my naked eye, I spontaneously jumped up and down cheering and I felt myself genuinely smile for the first time in a month. It was only moments later that I realized it was midnight and I was standing alone in my backyard. It didn't matter though. I love seeing those miracles of nature happen and the smile remained for quite awhile. That is until an hour later when I suddenly erupted in tears again.

I'll be okay, but this grief thing is a bitch.

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