My trip was overwhelming. Last night, after the baby was in bed, I went downstairs where J had already started washing all the baby's stuff and pulled out some of the things from my grandpa's house and it all just hit me. I started crying and I wondered if I would be able to stop.
Everything went better and worse than I had thought. The baby wouldn't go with anyone else. My normally outgoing, easy-going, friendly baby was (understandably) nervous (what with all the crying people) and clingy and well morphed into a fucking barnacle. She wailed if I walked more than three feet from her. She didn't sleep well (so I didn't sleep well). She rarely got a nap. I didn't plan for any of that because my daughter isn't that baby. I was prepared for the emotional strain, for conflicting feelings, for intense fatigue but I really didn't plan to have my kid to turn up the stress to a whole new level.
The best thing about the trip honestly was how hard everyone tried to be kind to one another. My family, we are like any other, sometimes we are awesome together and sometimes we are not. We fail each other in millions of ways every day. I have never doubted that I am loved by my family and I hope they never doubt that I love that--but sometimes they make me a wee bit stabby. Stabby towards the eyeballs. And while, yes, that happened a bit (we were all in close quarters for a week after all), I was impressed with how HARD we all tried.
I am trying to gear my brain to do that all of the time. Trying to be kind to the people I love. REVOLUTIONARY. But truly, I think most of us are steaming piles of shit to the people closest to us. We know we can be so we do it. But I am going to try not to anymore.
The viewing and funeral were so so so hard. I realize that I am fortunate to be thirty years old and up until two weeks ago have all four grandparents alive. I KNOW. And I have often said that this is a blessing and curse. While I would love to have my grandfather back and oh how I wish he were back, I know that it is better for HIM this way. His quality of life had really suffered. He was so weak and sick. And the other three are in the same boat. The human body is not really intended to go on into it's eighties. And neither is the human mind. He died in his home where he wanted to be. He had a long life. He said goodbye. We should all be so lucky.
And that is the difficult part of the trip. Seeing my great-uncles at the funerals--literally shells of who they were a few years ago. My other grandparents are really about 3/4 of a semi-competent person. It is a lot like letting a fourteen year old live alone. 90% of the time they are ok but you know--they eat a lot of crap, injure themselves constantly and oh they buy things they do not need. I hate how they have deteriorated. And I hate how as I get older I see their flaws so much more clearly. It is hard as you become an adult to see your parents as people. But I think it is even harder to go through that experience as an adult. I got a vivid demonstration of how frustrating it must have been for my mother to have these people be our grandparents when we were small (and I am so grateful that she did it anyway). We all have flaws and we are all largely products of our environment. Which means that the elderly in my family say some crazy shit that well, is uncomfortable to hear.
Also, ONE OF THEM, will go all bat-shit crazy if you maybe MAYBE snap at her at the mall play area because she was hovering around your kid and giving you the stink eye and brought up how many bruises said kid has and wouldn't back the eff off. HYPOTHETICALLY. She may also insist that it was your sister who snapped and be pissed at her instead.
MY KID IS FINE AT THE MALL PLAY AREA IT IS MADE OF FOAM AND HAS A BOUNCY FLOOR PLEASE LET HER CLIMB ON THE CLIMBER THINGY.
I was thanked so many times for bringing the baby, something that made me feel guilty a bit because was a I making it seem like it was so hard? Mostly I think she just charmed the pants off of them. She was being very cute and chatting away and eating so many things--something that didn't stop amazing one of my uncles whose own children have never eaten anything voluntarily. Mo eating lasagna and carrots and all the fruit in the world just blew his mind. Babies are great at funerals, they are cheering and cute and distracting. Fabulous unless you are their mother and you just want to mourn your grandfather and well you can't. Because you are marching your kid out since the hymns were freaking her out. Or you are playing cars with her and your cousin's son rather than sitting with your grandmother at the casket. These things are fine and useful but totally shit the bed as far as mourning rituals. There is a reason you don't sit shiva with hot wheels.
The absolute highlight of the week for me was watching Mo with my cousin's son. She called him her MeMe and several days later she is still talking about him. She followed him around relentlessly. Copied his every move. And he adored her. They kept hugging and kissing each other and she didn't even mind when he ran her over in fits of jealousy. Watching that I was so happy for her and consumed by guilt. She won't have any cousins to play with close by like my sister and I did. When my sister does have children they will live across the country. J's brother says he doesn't want kids but even if he were to change his mind they would still live thousands of miles away. And she will be an only child. It was so comforting to see my cousins and my sister and my family. Mo won't ever have that and I admit it breaks my heart.
I can't stop thinking and feeling and worrying about everything. I roll it all over in my brain until the edges are worn but still keep rolling. It's confusing and scary. There are so many things I need to say and I know that eventually I will say them all. Right now I am just grateful to have some one else to deal with the barnacle so I can rest.
And think. Always think.