Saturday, March 31, 2012

For the Living

When I was in about the seventh grade I somehow stumbled upon and became temporarily obsessed with the Yaz album "Upstairs at Eric's." I am certain that I still know all the words to the entire album and it infuriates me to think of these lyrics taking up valuable space in my brain.

Anyway, there's this one song called "Winter Kills" that is easily the most melodramatic and depressing song I have ever heard, and I'm talking 1980's melodramatic and depressing
complete with smeared eyeliner and bad hair, if you know what I mean.

Now don't get me wrong, I love a good snow day just as much as the next teacher, but this unexpected dumping of the white stuff just felt kind strange. I guess I was just so ready for spring...

It was a beautiful, wintery scene that involved a brief power outage, hot cocoa from the back of the Hershey's box, frolicking kids and dog, books by the fireplace, and a lot of cozy down time.

But still, spring seems so far away when the ground is cloaked in so much powdery snowfall. And it's easy to feel the winter blahs when everything has been so cold and wet and grey and all I want is a little glimpse into a spring-y future...

And then after two days of snow the sun came out and it all began to melt away and I started to get the feeling that everything would be just fine. Just fine.

My grandma died last week. It was no surprise, she was 90 after all, but still... I felt kind of numb about it, I think that's easy to do when someone has been declining for awhile and they finally die and you feel a strange sense of relief. But then one night as the kids splashed and giggled in the bathtub, I was searching through my phone contacts and there she was. Grandma Catherine. And I knew that I should go ahead and delete her, but I just stood there in the hallway and let myself cry those tears and felt an emptiness that you feel when you realize you'll never hear that voice pick up the phone again. I don't care that she was 90 and I don't care that your grandparents are supposed to die. I miss her.

She wasn't the cookie-baking type of grandma. She was more of a "Let me pour you another scotch" type of lady who loved to sit up late into the night and talk. When I lived in Portland I spent countless evenings with her doing just that. At that point in my life I needed someone to talk to and she was always there to listen, scotch or wine glass in hand, equipped with a sharp wit and sage advice. She once told me "Life is for the living" and that's a phrase that I've held on to for many years now through some pretty trying times. Life is for the living. I need to remember that right now.

Back in the 7th grade when I was listening to my Yaz tape, I was also spending my summer with the same friend who I spend summers with to this day. And though my heart has been heavy in the past week, life is indeed for the living. I saw this friend labor intensely and push a gigantic and very healthy baby into this world. And as I stood a few feet from this new life and watched him gasp that first breath of air and belt out that wonderfully loud first cry, I remembered that spring is always just around the corner. There is beauty in life and there is grace in death.

I hope someday I sit and sip wine with my own grandchildren. I hope they think I am funny and wise. But for now, I just hope for a little sunshine.

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