Today is the 2nd Wednesday of the month. While some of you may be like, "Yea. And?" Well, for me it means that it is the day I head to The Healing Center for group with Healing Club 1, 2, 3. This is the grief group for 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders that I have the privilege of being the "Group Host" for.
As Group Host I have the duties of what a "Den Mother" might have for that group that caters to young boys that don't accept people like me.(and by that I mean...GAY!) But I digress. But as Group Host I get to interact with the children and the parents as well as ordering pizza and floating around cleaning up and being a housewife! :) It can be a good gig. But today's group hit me a little bit harder than normal. And as I was driving home it all began to click for me what was going on inside this crazy brain of mine.
This Friday it will be 18 years since I lost my paternal grandmother. Edith Maxine Baisch was one of the most influential and important people in my life, and I lost her when I was 15 years old. I was in the middle of my freshman year of high school and trying to find my way in a school full of people who didn't accept me because I was a dork, a nerd, and my dad had just become Sheriff...as if I didn't have enough ammunition against me.
Eighteen years is a long time, but the memories of that day are still burned into my memory. I remember going to my grandma's house the night before and as we always did, we knocked twice and walked in. My dad and I found Grandma Edie in the kitchen elbow deep in a big jar full of mushrooms and slime! It was some new concoction that was suppose to help with her asthma. My grandma would try anything that was suppose to help with whatever ailed her! She looked at me and asked if I wanted to help her. I wrinkled my nose and while trying not to puke said, "No WAY!" 18 years later....I still regret not helping her. We visited with her for a while, the main reason for our late visit escapes me...but it doesn't really matter.
The next thing that sticks out was being woken up in the middle of the night by my father. He walked me and my little brother into my sister's room and seated us on her bed. As we tried to figure out why we had been woken up he said, "Tonight Grandma was having trouble breathing, and Grandpa had to take her to the hospital. The doctors did everything they could, but Grandma didn't make it." At that moment...my world stopped spinning.
My grandmother smoked most of her life and at 59 years old...it caught up with her. While typing this I had to stop because I was crying and couldn't see my keyboard. As the title of this blog states....time fades them, but never erases. I'm talking about memories...good...bad...and sometimes ugly. No matter what, they will always be with you to make you smile, make you cringe, or make you cry. Thinking about losing my grandmother always makes me cry. Losing someone who is so important to you is such a life altering thing, and I often find myself wondering what life would have been like if my grandmother was still here.
When I was going through training for The Healing Center, they said that everyone there was brought there for a reason. We've all lost someone, and we are all there to heal. And its very true. I find myself sharing during opening circle...and just like the children(some as young as 4) I was tentative at first. But as I soon realized that I was in a safe place, a place to heal, I was able to open up and allow myself to be vulnerable and concentrate on healing.
I wrote last year about how our society doesn't include children in the grieving process, and how working at The Healing Center has opened my eyes in so many ways. Tonight I sat through opening circle and was in awe at these young children. One of them was able to pose a question for everyone to answer(you can always pass). His question was, "What is the 'real' story of how your person died." I sat there as child after child opened up about how their loved one died. These children, wise beyond their years, are learning how to begin the healing process. They feel safe, and they share some of their most treasured memories of the loved ones they've lost.
One question that usually is asked during opening circle is, "What is a memory you have of the person you lost?" And for my Grandma Edie I can still hear the sound of her fingernails clicking on the keys of her organ while she played some song called "Irish Washerwoman." The clicking just echoes through my head and it makes me feel warm inside, and I feel like a child sitting there on the step to the entry room as she played.
Last year when we traveled to Montana I did something that I hadn't done in years, I stopped at my grandmother's grave. I used to stop there every trip back from college to my hometown, and I was almost excited to be able to go there again. Michael was very respectful and allowed me the time I needed. He watched as I stood there, and as I knelt by the grave stone and traced the letters of her name and the date she died. March 15, 1995...a day that will never be forgotten.
I know this isn't the typical housewife entry, but I feel that every now and again I need to get "real." And volunteering with The Healing Center and Providence Hospice is something that brings out the "realness" of life...and death. And I know that our society is very quick to shy away from talk of death, and even quicker to protect children from it. But I can't stress enough how important it is to allow children to participate in the grieving process. Allow them to ask questions, and answer them. Children will let you know how much they really want to know. We need to give them more credit, they are stronger than we realize.
This Friday I'll be thinking of my grandmother...maybe I'll even make a dish that always reminds me of her....Tater-tot Hot dish. Love you, Grandma.