I've been home from LaPorte and the funeral and my old home for a full week, but it feels like mere moments. Or maybe like years. It doesn't feel like a week.
I am going to say some things now.
I feel sort of fractured, like my very identity is fogged up because the man who raised me up isn't here on Earth to treat me like a little girl. Or maybe I feel like he is fractured. Like a little bit of his spirit is everywhere now, in me and my mom and my cousins and my uncles and my grandma and we will all carry around the vague feeling of his shadow on our thoughts and actions. I think our little family fits together like pieces of an odd and interesting puzzle, and without Papa, I don't know what picture we make. Or maybe we will still make the same picture, but some of the pieces will glow bright and some of the pieces will begin to look like shadows and maybe I don't know and we aren't a puzzle at all.
Not only did my mom and I live with my grandparents and Uncles (who were 14 and 18 when I was born) from the time I was a baby until I was eight, but after we moved out my Papa and my grandma took me on vacations all over. Just the three of us. The three of us in a motorhome. In the first ten years of my life, we all spent hours that would fill up entire years doing nothing but hanging out without television or cell phones or computers. Just me and my family and Yahtzee and the piano. I think I want to start playing Yahtzee again. And playing the piano again.
I live two and a half hours away from my grandparents. From my grandma, now. And Uncles. And cousins. It's just far enough that I didn't drive it as much as I should have, when I had the chance. I am going to start driving it more.
That's all I am going to say tonight.
I had to BEG my workaholic husband to let me use his work computer to type this. Like, pry it out of his hands as he was editing his website. If anyone out there wants to buy me a computer, I won't object. And I will blog every single day. (In between games of Yahtzee, of course.)
I found these pictures when I was getting photo boards ready for the funeral. They're of a random night in the late 1980s when I was probably five. They feel so real and alive to me. This is what it felt like to be the little girl. The little girl in the white house who lived with a lot of grown-ups. Wonderful grown-ups.
I promise my next post won't be sappy, but I can't promise it will be posted anytime soon.
(PS. This is how out of it I am: I tried to find my blog reader on Luke's computer but had to google it because it obviously isn't saved as a favorite. I couldn't even remember what it was called. I typed "blog" into google, and then thought for a few seconds and then typed, "blogroll". This is a true story. It's "bloglines" Erin. Bloglines. Duh. I only use it EVERYDAY under normal circumstances. I miss reading your blogs. Please forgive me. )
Tomorrow is Alice's first birthday.
A week ago today Papa said, "numnumnum" with his eyes closed, seemingly asleep. Everyone in the room asked "What Dad? What do you need?" and he repeated "Numnumnum" and then winked one eye open and said, "I'm talking to Alice."
"Numnumnum" is Alice's favorite word. It means "food".
Numnumnum everyone. Enjoy your Thursday. Think of Alice and Papa and eat cake if given the chance. I certainly will.
(PS. In the last post when I said the funeral was Friday I actually meant Tuesday. I made a typo. The funeral is over. I repeat, Tuesday not Thursday. Oh, and here is a link to the obituary. There are a lot of typos in the obituary too, but whatever. His legacy is in all of us, not in a paragraph in a small town newspaper. Thank you again for your prayers.)
Papa passed away.
My mom and I had been staying here, at his house, since Wednesday. We saw some of the signs that it was coming and my two Uncles and my mom and grandma and I stayed up all night on Thursday holding his hand and talking to him. He could only respond a little, but he would nod here and there and we knew he was listening and understanding all we said. He died on Friday morning. The viewing is tomorrow and the funeral is on Friday. I don't want to go. None of us want to go.
Luke: Funny how I am like, the best dressed member of this family.
Me: Excuse me?
Luke: Yeah, Clark and Alice have weird food all over them and you appear to be wearing some type of burlap sack...
Me: EXCUSE me?
Luke: Where did you get your burlap sack? Target? Or no, Goodwill. Target? Goodwill?
Me: Uh, neither.
Luke: Oh, so someone gave it to you?
Me: I can't find a single nice thing to wear.
Luke: What about what you had on yesterday?
Me: The burlap sack?
Luke: Uh, yeah. It was super cute and hot.
He was serious about everything he said in both conversations. He is both funny and maddening. I am glad he's my husband. He makes me laugh, even when ten seconds earlier laughter seemed miles away.
I spent Sunday and Monday with my grandparents and hope to go back tomorrow.
I am so thankful for all of the support you have given me. Thank you so much, times eleventy hundred. My laptop is still broken, but I keep reading and rereading the comments on my last post on my iPod. They feel like little hugs.
And for the record, my burlap sack was from Forever 21.
When I told Luke? He made fun of me some more.
A year ago today, I was feeling proud of myself, nervous for the future, ready for the next chapter. I was parenting a 19 month old (easy peasy, sorry, but it is) and felt like I had a handle on everything. I made healthy lunches from the produce I had delivered from organic local farms. I was out and about, taking Clark to the zoo and the State Fair. I was full of energy. My house was clean. I was blissed out and proud. It's so funny how much credit we give ourselves for having our act together (during the very brief periods of havingacttogetherness) when so much of it is circumstance. And God.
Today my kids had Jimmy Dean's microwavable sausage biscuits for lunch.
Yes, both kids. Even the baby.
I ate the cold leftovers with soapy hands that had been scrubbing food from the walls throughout lunch time.
Today I cried a lot. More than a lot.
I made my kids take two naps even though Clark generally takes zero naps. I cleaned the house not because I fancy myself to be a terrific housekeeper, but because it distracted me from the crying.
My grandpa is really sick. Really sick. Since his final clear-cut diagnosis of ALS in January, he has gone downhill rapidly. ALS is totally horrifying. Papa is now almost entirely paralyzed. He can't move his legs or arms or hands or feet. He weighs less than I do. His speech is deteriorating. His breathing is getting worse. Yet his brain is totally normal and aware.
His hospice nurse says it will be days. Maybe a week. Possibly two weeks. Probably not much longer than that.
I used to have nightmares when I was in elementary school about losing my grandparents. I would wake up and find my pillow soaking wet because I had been sobbing in my sleep. I still feel like that.
I am wrestling constantly with the idea that he needs to pass out of his physical body, a body that has turned on him and imprisoned him and the fact that death means I won't get to see him anymore. At least not for awhile.
My grandpa is the one person in the whole world that I have always wanted to please. To impress. I'm not going to lie-- he adores me. I'm his girl. I want to be the version of myself he sees.
I remember once when I was about 10 Papa asked me to sing "Hopelessly Devoted To You" for his buddy who was visiting. My grandpa was a life long pianist and organist. He just wanted to show off my little wavering wannabe-a-Broadway-star ten year old voice as he accompanied me. Can I tell you something? There is not a thing in the world I wanted to do less than sing "Hopelessly Devoted To You" for my grandpa's friend, a stranger. But I totally did it. Because Papa asked me to. You know?
And if he asked me tomorrow to sing it again? I would. I would sing it so loud.
I need to apologize for a second before I get on with the show. I have been very busy making road trips and my laptop died a sudden and unspectacular unfixable death. The only computer I have access to is Luke's work laptop and the only time I have to use it can be counted in stolen little moments. I am reading your blogs on my iPod Touch and smiling to myself and thinking up comments for them but have been left without a way to actually type my comments out and send them to you. So close your eyes and concentrate really hard and maybe you'll just know what I am thinking about what you have to say. It's probably something about how lovely you are if that helps.
Okay, on to my pictures.
La dee dah.
And Clark took this. I like how real it is.
I have to point out that I have red hair, because this is something you may not know about me and it isn't very obvious in these photos. I wanted to take new ones just to prove it to you but I am 156 different kinds of tired and it's 2:30 am and my camera battery is dead. So just take my word for it. My hair is dark brownish red. Always has been and always will be. Even if it someday has to come from a bottle.
Also? The real reason I wanted to use the very first tippy-top picture is because I am totally channeling Harriet Wheeler.
And just for good measure (and because I obviously like posting ridiculous and entirely-unrelated-to-You-Capture things in my You Capture posts), here is Harriet singing one of my very favorite songs in the whole entire world. I heard it for the first time when I was maybe 14ish? I have listened to it approximately 40,000 times since then.
Luke got home from work at 6 and I was in rare form. I get moody when my house gets messed up, especially when it gets messed up by two kids who follow behind me and undo everything I work hard to clean like little reverse house elves. (Except again? Not magical.)
Luke took a phone call and then informed me that his parents were stopping by for a minute. I know my mother-in-law knows my house isn't aways so bad and I was actually relieved that someone could entertain the kids for a few minutes so I could clean up from the steak dinner I was still patting myself on the back for making Luke in the midst of such chaos.
My in-laws pull up. And... oh NO... a second car pulls up. In it? Luke's grandma. Luke's grandma who had never been in our house before. (Can you hear me screaming in my head?) Oh! And more people! (AHHHH!) Luke's great Aunt and Uncle, visiting from Colorado.
I did what any sensible person would do in those fleeting last seconds before they all arrived at the front door.
I poured myself the biggest glass of wine ever and chugged it.
I was able to handle the guests with a smile, but hours later? I was still stupidly smiling.
If you got a hilarious and/or goofy and/or super-friendly tweet or comment from me last night?
That is why.