These past few days I have been cloaked in grief. I didn’t expect my grandmother’s death to hit me quite so hard. I thought I had such a good grip on the very logical, very healthy, very Irish perspective of “Death is just a part of Life” that it wouldn’t be long until my heavy heart could catch up with my clever head. Maybe it hasn’t been that long, really, but I am still rather reeling from the loss. It gets easier every day until the day comes when it isn’t easy at all. But the sun always, always sets on the hard days, and always, always rises again on a day that has the potential for being better. In that way, Life is just a part of Death.
Yeah, some days I’ve got it all figured out. And other days, I need a little help. Yesterday, my bright and beautiful boy was my rising sun. It was something so simple, as day-brighteners often are. It was just a trip to the grocery store.
I justify not always dressing my drooly/slobbery/barfy little stain magnet when we’re at home by drawing a heavy line at his always being dressed when we go out among the English. Yesterday, I put him in a simple short sleeved, red and blue striped, grey accented onesie. On a whim I grabbed his little grey newsboy cap. I, of course, thought he looked absolutely adorable, but guess what? I think he’s cute when all he’s wearing are carrots and peas. I was unprepared for the red carpet that appeared beneath our grocery cart.
This kid was a massive hit! It took us five mintues just to get in the opening-closing-opening-closing doors because every single grandma and grandpa in the front entry stopped to admire him. The Deli Dames damn near lost their minds. It took me fifteen minutes to get my cold cuts for the week because the gal who was helping us literally kept calling the other ladies over to look at Boyo. Then she stopped the customers who were walking by with a “Don’t walk by that baby! Get your share of the cute!” One call over begat another and pretty soon, we had a Nana and PopPoparazzi surrounding us!
As we walked through produce, we encountered a grouch. She was clearly agitated by the fact that her path to the zucchini was blocked by other shoppers. The “harumph” never left her face or her voice when she spotted us and said, “Cute. It’s the hat.”
I was picking out a ham steak in the meat section when I heard the microphoned voice of the cooking demonstration lady calling, “Oh my goodness, look at that baby! With the hat! Oh, look!” I would have guessed that taco seasoning really can’t hold a candle to my boy’s incandescence, but it sure was pretty awesome to have announced proof.
I swear I am not making it up when I say that on every single aisle, someone, usually an older gal, but also men, young women, store employees, and even a teenager stopped to remark on how adorable my hastily and serendipitously dressed little man was. We were the celebrities in the cereal aisle, the stars of the seafood department, and the famous faces in Frozen Foods. We were showered with attention and praise at literally every turn. My cheeks hurt from grinning like a fool. It felt fantastic!
I missed introducing my son to my grandmother by three weeks. That fact is a heavy stone in my pocket. I take great comfort in knowing (thanks to my mother and my aunt) that even toward the end when my grandmother couldn’t remember anything, she always asked about my boy by name. If I were a more mystical being, I would have said that maybe my beloved grandmother had a hand in enveloping us in grandparental admiration and attention yesterday. Maybe it was her way of telling me, “I see him. I see you. And I am proud of you both.”
Of course, for that to be true, it would mean that dying completely changes your personality. My grandmother was a lot of things, but maudlin and sentimental she most certainly was not. That’s what the living do, though. They hold on to their dead, seeing and hearing and feeling them until they are ready to let them go. I guess I’m not ready yet. Because yesterday, I swear, she went grocery shopping with us.
Yesterday, I unknowingly exchanged my cloak of grief for a little boy’s newsboy cap.
What a difference a hat makes!