Life, I’ve decided, is like chasing rising smoke. You reach out to grasp it and for one moment you think you’ve caught it in your hand and then you watch as it dissipates right through your fingers.
Laying here on the couch there is mostly silence except for the periodic roar of the heater and the dropping of the rain outside the east living room window. No more hum of the green machine. No more struggling for air. No more voices on the phone to hospice. No more background television. No more laughter and rememberences. Only occasional silent tears. Mike and Bob have gone home. My dad is in bed. It’s late. I am tired. I should be in bed too, but I am reluctant to go back to her bed.
Today we started sorting.
“I’ll take the baptism certificate, confirmation photo, crucifix & rosary beads.” “Bill should take the clocks, the table & the matching buffet.” “Jodie wants the wooden rosary, the frogs, and the wooden cats.” Mike dibbed the finger, the skull, and the secretary by her bed. Bob took the decorative bamboo fish that have been hanging in the bathroom FOREVER and the old glass ashtray in the leather holder. The ashtray that has never been used as an ashtray instead was a catch-all for a deck of cards and other various mini things that were taking a temporary rest on the coffee table. Bob’ll be back for the duck prints in the back bedroom. “David would like a Midcoast coffee mug and the print sitting on the dresser in Mike & Bob’s old room. Jonathan asked for the stuffed penguin that has been resting on the top of the tank of the black toilet. Sophia requested Granny’s rosebud pig piggy bank from the blue room and the porcelain St. Bernard that’s on the fireplace hearth.” Isabelle didn’t really know of anything specific, but then ended up asking for the colorful ceramic cat.
Seems really weird to already be “going through” her things. Too early. Too soon. Sorta vulture-like. But Gord was a no nonsense kinda gal. Practical. The getter-done kind of girl. The what-are-we-waiting-for kinda chica. I am sure she wouldn’t mind. In fact, I think she’d probably be helping out doing the same thing.
The clock stikes 5:00 am. Too Late. Way too late. I am going to pay for it in the morning.
Going through her things today I realized it’s one thing to know a person, but it’s quite another to be going through their personal and private artifacts. It was eye-opening to see another side of my Grandma I didn’t even know. A high school graduate. A bathing beauty at the beach. A bridesmaid. A young mother with little babies. Wife of a Airforce pilot.
The battery runs out on the iPad. I give up and make my way to the bedroom. I crawl under the hodgepodge of blankets left on the bed after they took her away. Silence. It’s deafening. I don’t hear a thing.
I breathe in deeply. Exhale. And, repeat. Even though I can’t hear her or touch her I can smell her. She is still here.