So, the past week has been exhausting. As most of you probably know by now--thanks, social media--my grandmother Joan Yoder passed away on Tuesday April 12 at the age of 95. She'd been in pain for a long time, and with the sadness of her death comes the relief that she will no longer suffer.
It wasn't a complete surprise. For one thing, she was 95. While her oldest sibling made it to 99, grandma had been failing for a while. For another, my aunt sent a text blast on Monday with staggering vital signs. (After researching hospice care for various projects, I saw this for what it was: the beginning of grandma's death. Kinda like when the water breaks as a woman is about to go into labor.) I went to bed Monday night knowing that at any moment I'd get that phone call. Turns out "Do Not Disturb" is serious shit on my phone. When my alarm went off at 7am Tuesday, I saw a missed call and voicemail from my mom. By 7:02 I had the news. By 8am, I'd talked to Sean and by 8:30 we were cleared for him to take the rest of the week off to travel to Indiana. Sean, our daughter, my mom and I boarded a plane at 5:30pm that evening and landed at 1am at Indianapolis, International. After grabbing some food and a long drive, we arrived at my aunt's house at 4am.
That in and of itself should be a clue as to why I'm exhausted. We shared my aunt's house with her, her visiting daughter and son-in-law. Seven people and 1 bathroom. And most of the time the house was delightfully full of people.
We did what our family does: we sat around and told stories. We talked. A LOT. Our family is full of stories. Hell, my grandma was constantly telling them. So we told them. We remembered her. We shared versions of her that people might not know. To give you some semblance of what I'm talking about... my oldest cousins are 20 years older than me. That means that their grandmother was 20 years younger than mine. She was a different person. And my grandmother is not the Grandma Jo her many great-grandchildren or even her great-great grandchildren knew! So many stories.
The viewing at the funeral home on Thursday was well-attended for someone of her age. There was a slideshow running in the back of the room, many pictures full of people that the younger ones didn't know. So I pointed out, "Oh, that's Grandma and her brothers. That baby? That's your grandma!"
Friday was the funeral service. I gave a eulogy. I won't share it here, honestly. I wrote that for a specific audience and it contains some very personal, very sacred stories. My cousin Tim read a lovely poem to close out the service, and we released a bunch of balloons in her memory. All in all the trip was a blessing. I saw family that I hadn't seen in 12 years. Sean got to meet people I love dearly. It was a very safe and loving place to grieve.
But I'm so exhausted. It's not just jet lag now. I remember when Nicki died in 2011, I said I felt numb, like I wasn't feeling what I thought I should. My friend Jasmin remarked, "Rest assured you've been mortally wounded." I think all deaths are like that. A piece of me has been ripped out and the world will never be the same. Feeling all of that at once would be devastating, debilitating even. So I've been in an odd sort of stasis since coming home. I've been numb and tired. I've been focused on work that's already behind schedule. I haven't had the breakdown.
Normally when I lose someone I come to this blog and eulogize them. I can't do that now. Maybe I put it off too long what with the trip and diving in to finish editing UNINVITED the second I got home. Maybe I said all I needed to in the eulogy I gave at the funeral. Maybe I'm too tired. Or maybe I'm avoiding it. Grandma and I shared a very special bond. It's one that I'm very protective of, and frankly, I want to keep to myself as much as I can.
So what I will say is this...and this is something not a lot of people know. There's been a death in the Cat Sharp family. It's one you won't see on the page, because I can't lose her twice. But if you've read the Cat Sharp books, you've met my grandmother. She is the basis for Cat's adorable landlady Mrs. McIntyre. Her voice, her mannerisms....they come from the very real Joan Yoder. While I may write very non-grandma adventures for her, I will always be able to see my grandmother in the pages of those stories.
I'm not okay right now.
But I will be.