I wasn't really sure that after this past week's events, that I would have any words left to say by this morning. And I was right. I can't find my words but I have many thoughts. So I'm just going to let them tumble out and see what happens.
Our trip to California for my Grandfather's funeral service was really, really nice. We left Wednesday, and drove all day and arrived at my Uncle's home in Stockton by 9 p.m. We were made to feel especially comfortable, as usual, by my Aunt and Uncle and we all slept like rocks. Thursday morning we departed for Santa Nella, and the nearby San Joaquin Valley National Cemetary where my Grandfather was laid to rest. His service was just as a military service would be expected... spit shined and regulated. It was such a foreign concept to me, but I took great interest in the method by which they paid respects to every comrade, regardless of beliefs or opinions. I did admire that.
The bagpiper was a great touch. My Grandfather was very involved in the tracing his roots and participating in the Scottish Highland Games. This is one part of my heritage that I enjoy, and will be able to share with my kids because it was shared with me.
It was great to see my other relatives again, and pass out hugs (and kisses in this family!). The sun shone so brightly and the scenery was so breathtakingly beautiful, that it was really easy to see that God had wanted us to see and feel his presence wrapped around everything we did. After the service, we went to the top of a hill, where we could look out over the valley and see the plot where my Grandfather's remains were placed. We were not allowed graveside (again, strict regulations) until a couple hours later, but we opted to go back to the nearby town and have a meal as a large group before we all went our separate ways.
It was after the meal, as we were hugging and saying our goodbye's to most of our family that we got the phone call that my Grandma Alice had died during the preceding hour or so. I can't really express the thoughts that squeezed their way through my brains at that point in time. For one, I had a huge sense of relief that now my dear Momma wouldn't have to worry about when her Mother was going to go anymore. But, I also had an overwhelming sense of sadness that all of the sudden I had no living Grandparents and in the space of about a year both of my parents, and all of my Aunts and Uncles had become orphans.
We did know that my Grandma's hours were limited, and in a way we were hoping we could get back home in time to be with her. However, my Mother, always the logical one, had made most of the final arrangements before we even left. I think my Mom mostly worried that nobody would be there for her Mother like they had been for the ones who died before. I remember when my Grandpa Charlie was sick and dying, we couldn't chase off people away from his bedside, but with my Grandma's last weeks it was a lot different. Thankfully, she had loving people with her for her send-off. I know my Mom really appreciated that.
I am grateful that I was able to say my good-bye's on a day that I got both a huge smile and tears from her. I was so sad to let her go, she clung to me like a small child, with tears spilling out and over her frail cheeks and it was utterly heartbreaking to just walk away. Right now I'm pretty sure she's got tears running down her cheeks again, but not because she is sad. It's because she is so overwhelmed with happiness to be hiking the snowy mountains again, swimming in the ocean and running through the tall grass in heaven. Right now she is playing with all the little kids there whose parents haven't arrived yet and they are all calling her "Grandma". She always favored the children, and not just her own, but everyone else's as well. She was quite literally everyone's Grandma - and I'm delighted to have been able to share her with the hundreds of other kids who admired her and enjoyed her playful spirit during the years.
Loss isn't easy, losing loved ones hurts like heck - but in a way, this past year has been such a blessing to my life. It is one that has helped my family learn what loving others and putting each other first really means. It's showed me what being a real friend is all about. It's taught me that there is no one person who can support a whole group, but when everyone supports, the whole group can get through this.