It is finally here! The denouement! (Yeah, I’m fancy!) Denou-what? The end of my blog’s dedication! Well, it’s actually a “dead-ication“, because they are all dead.
There will also be a Cliffs Notes edition coming soon, if you want to cheat. I won’t tell anyone if you do.
Last I left you, I was on a road trip to my master’s degree residency in Surry, Maine, where it felt like my Uncle Stephen was in my back seat, guiding me.
In this post, I tried to bring you into the world of that residency in Maine in all it’s sugary-sweet yet very real glory.
Let’s revisit the road to residency one more time.
Somewhere along the route, surrounded by so many evergreen trees that I smelled their sappy, woody, Christmas time scent through my closed windows, I became inspired to re-examine my required presentation topic for the residency. I had already fleshed out an idea, but I didn’t really like it.
Thinking of my uncle, a new idea popped into my head. Why not lead my peers in an activity on transforming grief? This was something that I obviously had a lot of experience with and could be useful to others in the program.
When it came time for me to present, it all came naturally. I spoke calmly throughout the presentation, even through my fear and tears.
Stephen’s life clearly inspired my desire to pursue the field of Humane Education. I wanted my peers to consider the qualities of people they love and honor and let that inform their humane education work.
When I heard others share similar grief experiences of the amazing people who impacted their lives, my heart melted. I had to mop it up later, but that’s another story.
I believe my uncle had a cosmic hand in getting me to Maine and leading me to this experience at the residency. I felt his presence with me the whole time, and it was unbelievable.
In the last episode of my dedication, you may have wondered if my grandmother was going to die during my residency. I didn’t think I’d get to see her again. I was wrong.
This isn’t a very easy story to tell and her life is hard to humor-ize.
My Grammie Claire’s life was riddled with trauma. When my uncle died, she became a different person than the grandmother I knew when he was alive. Stephen was, in fact, her third son to die. She gave birth to two twin boys and they died shortly after their birth. There was just so much trauma in her life, and I am sensitive to that.
About three months after residency, in September of 2016, I surprisingly accompanied my mom to hold vigil for my Grammie during the last 4 days of her life. I thought that my grandmother was an example of how not to live my life. Instead, she somehow showed me how to live my life.
Her hospice nurse was awesome. Not only was she a regular nurse, but she was a “holistic nurse,” as well. This nurse believed that when people are dying, they go through something that is called a “life review,” in which the person watches their entire life like a movie. This pained me, because when I ruminate on certain parts of my own life, I cringe.
The nurse assured me that at this point, my grandmother was able to review her life without judgment. Watching this “movie” helped her to prepare for her next incarnation. I don’t know if or how the nurse knew, but I had always believed in reincarnation, so this information helped me to heal.
The nurse explained to us that my grandmother specifically chose the life she had, to learn the lessons she needed to learn. She was responsible for her choices and actions, not us. It was not up to us to judge her life.
My Grammie died in the early morning, while we were sleeping at home. My mother said that when she got the call, they said that she had “expired.” We find that word choice to be so weird. Like, this person is telling someone her mother just died and now she’s like a rotten piece of fruit? (I inherited the morbid side of my sense of humor from my grandmother, so please, do not be ashamed if you chuckled at that. I am sure my Grammie would have thought it was funny too. She would often say, “don’t get old, Laura!”)
Morbid jokes aside, my grandmother’s death taught me to take action. After she died, my spirituality grew wildly. Like the tomatoes she grew, or the strawberries I savored from her bushes. Like the plants she and my mom carefully selected for their gardens each Mother’s Day.
I now noticed a deep creative energy suddenly scratching and crawling it’s way out of me. I created more art, wrote, even read more than ever. Not surprisingly, the time my grandmother spent as an artist, nursery school teacher, and knitter let her weave her artistry throughout her community.
She often held back from expressing her love for her family and friends, rarely leaving the house, refusing to travel, avoiding spending nights at our house during holidays. She even held back enjoying the gifts that family gave her. An example of this comes from a piece of my writing shortly after she died:
She once told me she really wanted the magnetic “moon sand” that was popular with kids. Together we looked up how she could make it herself online, but ultimately I decided to buy her some of the store bought kind for Christmas. I wasn’t in the practice of buying her Christmas presents, this was the only time I ever did so. We were both really excited about me giving her a gift. But she never used it. My mom said she had said she was “saving it for later.”
I do not want to save having a joyful life for later. I do not want to be so fearful of losing someone that I cannot love them fully. I want to be grateful for everything. Living my life, always learning, and doing what I want, when I want.
So, finally, I also dedicate this blog to my Grammie, Claire, for reminding me to be present and live with no regrets. To continue to make art, write, be one with nature, and learn anything I wish to learn, before it is too late. Or before I, dare I say it, expire.
My suggestion to you, my dear readers, is to make a list of the things you would save for later, and start doing them now.
P.S.: Just like my uncle Stephen, my Grammie Claire is strongly connected with me spiritually, and has been sending me signs, signals, and visions ever since I read this story to her before she died and at her memorial service.
P.P.S: My grandmother loved animals just like me. She chose this song to play at her service.