I was going to put a post up here about food that’s terrible for me, and I still plan on inflicting that particular pain upon all of our readers at some point (EZ Cheese anyone?), but some anniversaries are too hard for me to ignore. Today is the third year anniversary of the day I lost my grandmother. She was, and always will be, one of most influential people in my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and smile in some way. Anyone who’s lost someone close to them will know what I mean when I say that there’s a gap left behind when someone that close to you dies. Nothing ever really fills it, but over time you learn to adjust to it, to move onto other things so you don’t dwell too long on what’s missing. Since Dot’s death I’ve felt like an incomplete jigsaw puzzle, like a very important part of the big picture is gone and will never be properly fitted again.
I found something in my writing folder earlier today, before I even realized that this is March 2nd, and holy shit March 3rd marks three years tomorrow. It was really just fucked up happenstance that now seems somehow more significant. It was the reading I had planned on doing at my grandmother’s funeral. I never got the chance – my mother and cousin spoke instead. As Gram didn’t have an open casket, I didn’t have the chance to put it in there with her either, and so I always felt like it just sort of remained socked away on a hard drive, forever rotting with other pieces of writing that wouldn’t see the light of day. That didn’t seem like a proper place for it.
I think I’ma dust this bitch off and post it as a tribute to a great woman I will never forget.
Everyone approaches the opportunity to speak at a remembrance service differently; some people will recite poetry or prayers that have helped them heal. Some will share an anecdote or two, trying to bring humor to an otherwise dark time. Others will relay a personal experience that they feel best represents the person they lost, in hopes of reaching out to their listeners and finding some common ground among the throng.
I don’t choose to spend my time that way for a few reasons. The first of those reasons, and probably the most important reason, is that everyone here has something good to say about Dorothy Monahan. In fact, I’d say we as a collective – have so many good things to say about her, trying to recite a list would take us all day and a good portion of tonight, and we don’t have that kind of time. Thus, I feel it’s best to keep the remembrances personal. Our memories are fond, our sentiments are our own, I think we can all agree that she was a remarkable woman.
The second reason I don’t choose to spend my time following the standard course of remembrance speeches is because my grandmother never wanted me to dwell on the past. She told me to look forward, not behind, and I can see the value of this lesson now more than ever. When faced with a personal tragedy like the death of a loved one, it’s hard to see the future. It’s hard to see the good when you’re hurting. When I lay my head down at night and my mind races a million miles an hour, for a few minutes, all I can see is my own pain and it makes my stomach clench, but then I remember that she wouldn’t want that. She would want me to smile, and she would want me to heal.
How I do that is actually very simple.
I picture her how she’d want to be pictured. In my mind’s eye, she is young and she is beautiful again. She is entering into a room with good jazz. There is a table there with a few stacks of playing cards. Maybe a bridge game is in process. She takes the free seat at the head of the table and scans the faces around her. All of the brilliant people she’s loved and lost are here, and they’ve been waiting for her. There’s her father, and her grandfather, and her mother and her brother. There’s Gertrude and Inky and yes, even Shine. There are siblings and friends and aunts and uncles who she hasn’t seen in so very long, but she’s missed so very much, and they’ve saved her this seat, they’ve saved her a glass, and she knows at long last that this is where she belongs. It’s time for Dorothy to hold court again, here among her loved ones, and as she starts to speak, everyone starts to smile. Her glass never empties, her voice never wavers.
If you asked me how I have kept my tears to a minimum, it’s by picturing this scenario, because I know in Dorothy’s heaven, things are simply marvelous. She’s doing all right.
It goes without saying that she loved each and every one of us, and I don’t mean to suggest with my fanciful little story that she’s forgotten us. If anything, she’s there and she’s waiting for us to join her and to share in her laughter. So I suppose I could reminisce about the past and bring up things that are done and gone, but if I choose instead to concentrate on the future, my own future, I can say with some certainty I feel better knowing that when my time comes, Dorothy will pull a seat up to that table for me.
Personally, I think it’s one hell of a good table to be at.
Rest in Peace, Dotty May.