One of my cousins came up to me as we filed into the fellowship hall. The room already filled with the smells of church lady made foods, we sought out tables to eat our feelings among our friends and family members. He touched my arm.
“Your youngest, the way he was comforting you during the funeral service, killed me.”
I nodded. I smiled. And like so many times over the past week, my face crumpled and the tears came.
My grandma passed away on Friday, June 6, 2014 at 2:28am at Good Samaritan Hospice surrounded by my father, my uncle, and my brother. I answered the call that came at 2:30 as I was closest to the phone, curled up in my mom’s bed after getting her there just an hour before.
The past few days have been a busy blur of getting things done and grieving, eating food and forgetting to eat the food, doing too much and suddenly collapsing in a fit of tears that dissolve into a much needed nap. People showed up with food, with flowers, with hugs. Friends came to the funeral home and let me cry on their sweaters, let me smoosh their babies. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for my family, for my beloved grandmother.
During the funeral service this morning, I sat in the front row with my parents, my brother and his family, and my boys and my husband. Next to me sat my youngest son, the biggest heart in our four person unit. I knew I would cry; how could I not? I loved this woman, my grandmother with a love too big for words. I had tissues in hand. I was prepared. But as we started to sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” my voice broke. By the end of the song, the tears rolled freely down my cheeks; my voice silent.
LittleBrother looked up at me as we sat down. “Mommy, your nose is red.” I nodded.
Throughout the remainder of the service, my youngest son rubbed my arm, scratched my back, stretched his little arm all the way around me, looked up at me repeatedly, and generally comforted me. I kissed the top of his head many times, tears and snot mixing together. He pointed out my red nose one more time. I just smiled; it’s my tell-tale. When I’m happy or sad, mad or glad, my nose turns red. Today, I was not just sad; I was devastated.
After the service ended, the meal consumed, one of my grandparents’ oldest friends came up to me to comment on how well-behaved my sons had been all day today, all day yesterday.
“You know. You’re like your grandma. Raising boys.”
Again with the smile, the pause, the face crumple.
It’s true. She raised three boys. I’m raising two. I hope to raise them to be like my father, my uncles: to work hard, to laugh harder, to cry when they need to cry, and to love their family fiercely, with all they have to offer.
My heart is so deeply broken right now and I miss my grandmother so much it hurts. But her legacy lives on in the two little boys that I just tucked into bed. I hope I make her proud.