I can tell something is seriously not right with me when I lose my appetite because that’s a pretty rare occurrence. I went to a buffet on Saturday and had no desire to dip into the desserts. I should have known right then that something was up.
Actually, I did know.
But when heavy things are going on in your life, you can’t spend all your time focusing on those things, right? There’s that balance between processing and then focusing on other things, too. But even when my mind was elsewhere, my body hadn’t forgotten.
It was the next day when I got the news about my grandmother, the official, final news. She was gone.
My grandmother’s condition has been slowly declining for many years. So I kind of thought I would be prepared, that I wouldn’t have much more grieving to do. But I suppose you really never know how something will be until you go through it. Though I’ve been “losing” my grandmother for years now, I’ve felt quite heavy the past couple weeks since hearing her time was approaching. I’ve found myself crying spontaneously and feeling homesick to be with my family.
I guess this is what grieving is like.
Missing her laugh and her cooking and her sense of humor. Remembering her inner strength and all the important things she taught me. Wishing I could have somehow communicated to her that even though I am all the way over here in Korea and she was all the way over there in the States, I never forgot her for a second and am so glad she was my grandmother.
But one thing I am grateful for is that I can grieve without the weight of despair. And I am thankful that with mourning, comes comfort.
Over the past few years, I’ve had a number of vivid dreams about my grandmother. Often my dreams are random, slightly disturbing, or clear manifestations of various anxieties hiding in the recesses of my mind. But other dreams are different: They stay with me and actually lighten me. I think of those dreams as gifts.
In my dreams about her, my grandmother was always healthy.
Sometimes she was miraculously getting up out of a wheelchair and walking. Other times she was having long, coherent conversations with me, imparting wisdom and making me laugh. After awhile I realized: I was getting to see my real grandmother in these dreams. Not the weakened woman suffering with disease, but the true person underneath, the real her that is eternal.
I came to understand on a deeper level that this season of her life was only temporary. It was going to fall away, and the real her would reemerge.
The night before my dad told me she had stopped eating, that she wouldn’t be around much longer, I had another dream. She was leaning against my grandfather, making witty comments and making all of us smile. It was just a snippet of a dream, but it was enough that when I got the news, I could accept it without despair.
The thing is, I know that I will see my grandmother again. And on that day she will have no trouble talking or walking or dancing or laughing. She will be beautiful and witty and full of joy.