there is a kind of leveling up that happens when we work hard, persevere, earn it some how...
and then there is the uncomfortable kind. the kind that happens when a generation passes, dropping away, thrusting us up to the next level whether we like it or not.
We lost our sweet Mimi this weekend. My grandmother. My mother's mother. An amazing woman, strong, buoyant. She scared me shitless when I was little. And even when I was not so little anymore, I always felt I was disappointing her. Or doing things wrong. Or being wrong. And I hated that. I never felt like she liked me very much.
Jeff died the same month as Poppy, my grandfather, 10 years ago this coming August. And in those first months of nearly insane grief, we bonded in a way we never had before. Jeff also shared a birthday with Poppy.
Suddenly, she became so much less scary-- so much more tender and loving toward me. Each birthday anniversary we would reach out, specially and specifically. Each death anniversary. It was so hard to have this shared grief be the subject of our new relationship, and I felt so torn. So relieved that we were on new footing, so very sad about why.
But no matter how complicated the "why", the past 10 years have been a different kind of gift. A gift of connection, and a totally new way of relating. I still disappointed her. Getting pregnant before getting married-- a cardinal sin in her playbook. But I felt we truly had a connection in a way we had not.
And now here we are.
leveling up in spite of what any of us wanted.
I will think of her red painted toes.
Her ability to float like driftwood. Truly, a freakish thing.
I will think of her laugh, and her sly grin.
I will think of the tiny pickles in a silver dish, her swedish meatballs, her mac and cheese.
I will think of the gatherings at her house, smelling of sea salt and cedar.
I will think of jean nate and dove soap.
I will think of the time she dried my hair, hard, with a towel on the deck of a large sail boat off the coast of maine, and how i cried at her sudden tenderness.
I will think of the acrid smell of Ammens powder-- when we were very little, she would have us lie on towels on her bed, and spread powder on our backs after swimming.
I will think of the slippery-soled ill-fitting sneakers she would make us wear to swim off the rocky beach.
I will think of red geraniums, and spectator pumps, and her crooked front tooth.
And I will think of how her hand felt, under mine, the last time I held it.