The hardest part, for me, was seeing all of the people I love in pain. I wasn't very close to my grandmother, and I regret that so much now. I was the first grandchild, but I was illegitimate, and my paternal grandparents weren't accepting of this fact. The rest of the children were born in wedlock (even if just barely) and they were welcomed into their lives in a way that I never was. As a child, since my maternal grandmother died before I was born, I thought that grandmothers were just not close to their grandkids; both my maternal and paternal grandfathers were much more loving and attentive to me, so I figured it was just the females. As I got older and my cousins and brother and sister were born, I noticed the difference in how I was treated, and I resented it.
As an adult though, that's no excuse, and I should have extended more effort to get to know them as people. I shouldn't let past family squabbles prevent me from doing that now, so, no matter what my father or stepmother think of the issue, I do want to know more about my family and spend time with my only remaining grandparent, my father's father.
Jesus, I'm crying as I write this. I shouldn't let it get to me.
My stepmother and sister wanted me to look through my grandmother's things to see if there was anything I wanted to keep. It felt very awkward, because I was only invited into my grandmother's apartment in my father's home once, years ago, and then only into her sitting room. It felt weird and much too intimate to be in her bedroom and walk-in closet stuffed to the brim with jewelry, clothing, and shoes, to touch her things and poke through and take what caught my eye. My grandmother had very good taste and there are many attractive baubles, but I feel like, if she was alive, she wouldn't want me there, so it feels wrong to be there now, even though I am asked to. If they press me, I will take a closer look through her rings to see if there is one I might be able to resize to use as a wedding ring or something.
My grandmother was very vain and didn't want to see anyone without her hair, makeup, and clothing immaculate. So it was hard to see her in the hospital, taking her last machine-wrought breaths, with what little white hair she had left standing up off of her head in wild tufts, her beautiful blue eyes staring soullessly into nothing, her emaciated and chemical-ravaged body lying listlessly in pain under rough hospital sheets. To lean in and give her lifeless, empty body a kiss while her flesh was still temporarily warm. It was too intimate. But, for some reason, being around the personal effects that made her comfortable makes me even more uncomfortable. I'll never understand it.
The little I did truly know about my grandmother is gleaned from those who knew her best. My family. I have learned more about my grandmother since her passing than in all of my life. Their loving remembrances of her life will ensure her Amazing Grace will live on.
My grandmother's wake was exhausting. I pretty much sat around and hugged and shook hands with people for eight hours. Her funeral was the next day. That was very difficult. My little sister's eulogy was powerful. I read it about an hour before the service and got so choked up, I couldn't speak. I didn't want to cry in front of her because it would be hard enough for her to say it in front of everybody. As it was, she was crying so hard that I'm sure her beautiful words were lost on most of the mourners.