I spent most of Friday in this strange sort of stupor. There was this pressing hollowness in the center of my chest that felt as though it would crush me from the inside as it struggled to get out. I couldn't decide if it was sorrow or guilt or some other emotion I was incapable of pinpointing at the time.
By the time I reached my mothers house, almost exactly 24 hours after I had been told of my grandmothers passing, the hollowness had left me. I no longer felt the need to cry or to be alone or anything else one experiences in grief. I felt fine, which made me feel worse.
My immediate family has a way of making me feel better. The thoughts in my head were the words on their lips and the need to make this better for my mother was the only concern any of us seemed to have. Thoughts of grief for the dead seemed smaller than the need to comfort the survivors.
There is this overwhelming tension that lies beyond my siblings and parents. There are unspoken lines drawn in the sand. This all feels like the conditions for a perfect storm. I have a feeling that things will come to head no matter how hard we try to prevent them. Maybe it is what those on my side of the line want most.
Yesterday the pastor asked us to think of some memory of my grandmother that made us joyful. I had this whole speech planned about how generous she was. It is the truth, she was generous, but always at a price. Nothing she did was not without calculation. Somehow when I opened my mouth to say it I thought that would be wrong of me. I didn't feel right portraying her as something more than I really think she was.
Instead I told him she taught me how to cook. I told him about spending hours learning the exact method of making chicken fried steak, and the perfect size of a chocolate chip cookie, and the secret ingredient that makes everything taste better is love. I learned from her my love language, which is food. I learned that you fix every ill with the right type of food. You nurture through food. You love through it.
The pastor seemed touched and my mother cried more. I felt good about saying it because it was the truth with no pretenses. It didn't paint my grandmother in any light that was not the truth, and it really did reflect the best about her.
We were asked if we wanted to speak at her funeral, and there was a resounding no from our camp. No one wanted to say anything for various reasons. For some it was too emotional, for some there is nothing nice to say and that would not do anyone any good.
As the night wore on though I started to feel the need to say something. The viewing was quiet but I think it was only quiet for us. It seemed like the vast majority of the people had no idea who my family was and focused condolences on the other half of the family. I felt a little betrayed. I wanted to remind these people that I was there too. That I was grieving too. That my siblings have just as much a right to condolences as my cousins do.
I think maybe this was a little selfish. I think maybe that is why the words I wrote for a eulogy stuck in my brain and flowed like molasses. I am fairly sure that is why when I read back the words to myself out loud that they sounded so wrong. To the outside they might sound perfectly fine, even sweet and appropriate, but to me they sounded like a lie.
I had used my words, my gift of story, to paint a picture that wasn't true. I had turned it from a remembrance of her into a spiteful barb at others. It all seemed wrong. I knew that the entire thing was selfish and I couldn't say it, because I can't lie now that she is gone. It would be wrong.
I lay awake this morning thinking about what I was going to do. I don't have to speak this afternoon, but I still feel like I should. I feel now though like I should not to prove to others I was her favorite, but because I know I was her favorite, and I know it would break her heart if I didn't.
I don't know if I can write down my thoughts or if I will just let the words flow. I think now though with good intentions I can say the truth, as I did when I was speaking to the pastor yesterday. I think I can use my words to paint the right picture; a truthful picture of love generated by love.