As I was leaving my apartment this afternoon, a sky that had been threatening to crack open for the last hour finally did, and what had been a dark but calm afternoon suddenly became a torrential downpour, with hail cracking against my windshield and tree branches threatening to snap at any moment.
This pretty much describes my emotional state this past week to a t.
On Monday, May 14, 2018, Dorothy Ann Arthur — Dorothy Ann Brucken in her maiden state — passed away after finally surrendering to her long and hard fought health battle. It's hard to feel like it's a good thing that your grandmother has passed away. The woman who gave birth to the woman who gave birth to you no longer occupies her space on a planet that, for all of your intents and purposes, wouldn't and shouldn't exist without her. The woman who used a Scottish/Irish term (malafooster - v. - to destroy, wreck, ruin) to tell you that you were getting on her last nerve as you climbed on and across every feasible surface in her farmhouse. The woman who, without fail, would hustle you honestly every single time you played cards. The woman who gave birth to 7 children, 6 of which are still on this Earth, all of whom swear like sailors, but would scold you for saying "damn" when you visited her. The woman who could hold her own against her ornery husband when he was being the most bitter pill in her kitchen. It's hard to know the woman — a woman who made everyone she met better in her 83 years of life — that you loved the way you can only love a grandmother, is gone, and despite the world feeling less bright, knowing that it's for the best.
This past Sunday I had my final private moment with my grandmother, and on Monday her family and friends said their good-byes. Describing what the visitation on Sunday was like is nearly impossible. How do you make people outside of her family understand that amidst the sorrow, it was still an Arthur gathering. There was tears and hugs and apologies and love. There were Dorothy's great grandchildren running around the mortuary because they didn't truly understand the finality of what was happening - children who just knew that the adults that they love were sad and had tears that could use a hug to wipe them away. There were stories told, and memories shared, and off color jokes made by her husband because you can't expect anything else from him, even in his grief and sorrow. How is it that the visitation was more painful than the funeral, if only because the funeral didn't feel real and the visitation felt like Grandma was sitting in the room with us? How is it that you can feel both so alone in a room filled with family and yet still lost in a large crowd of relations who are all experiencing the same thing?
Even as we were saying our goodbyes on Monday, Grandma gave us one last gift — an afternoon on her farm, surrounded by members of the Arthur family, remembering all of the good times and memories we shared with the woman we loved best in the family. There were water gun fights and ice cubs fights, drinking and eating and crying, and more stories. That is to say, it was a typical day on the farm, minus the biggest piece of our familial puzzle. It was beautiful and painful and heartrending.
I love you, Grandma, and I miss you. I'll try to avoid doing anything that would make you want to malafooster me. No promises, though.