Some things are hard to grasp

Some things are hard to grasp. It’s taken me a while to realize this. As a rule, I walk through the world with the belief that whatever it is, I can understand it. I like this arrogance – it is challenging and comforting, and most of the time it is accurate. But despite frequent accuracy, it turns out that arrogance is arrogance, and, as much as it can push capacity, it can also obscure the truth. And the truth is that there are some things that I fail to understand, even as I experience them.


My grandmother died in November, on a Saturday morning. I was on the bus coming in from Boston to say goodbye. My mom and stepfather living five minutes away only just made it to her bedside; she died within 20 minutes of their arrival. Nan was not someone who’d namby-pamby around when there was someplace to be.

I arrived to her home, to her body. She was gone but she was still in bed. Her eyes were closed, skin smoothed of the wrinkles that had resided there for the past 30 years, her features sharper than I’d ever seen. Her hands were folded, beautiful and cold. I held her hand in my hand, in my heart, and in my eyes. It was a different goodbye than I had imagined.

It is different to walk through the world without her. I don’t understand this world yet, and I certainly have not reconciled myself to liking it.

I avoided going to bed the night she died. I didn’t want to wake up in a world she was not in. New Years was hard too. What good is a year she would never be part of? Why would I willingly enter that reality?

About a month after she died, she began appearing dreams. It was so good to see her.

Another dream, a little later: I was attending a funeral for my grandfather. This was surprising; he has been dead a decade now. His death marked the first time I tried to comprehend the permanency of loss that death entails. But enough.

Back in my dream, it was his funeral and all these people I loved were attending. These friends of mine had traveled far to be there. We were all outside and they were sitting on a hill and spreading down into a baseball field with no bases. I remember being on the edge of this hill, alone, alternately crying facedown in the grass and waving to these intimate friends. I was far away, inconsolable and loved. I was so grateful for everyone there.
I woke up from this dream thinking I’m gonna have to do this twice more in the near future.

I have two more grandparents in their nineties. Which is lucky as far as these things go.