Prairie Rituals

There was a funeral. It was exhausting. But over ritual 6AM coffee at my grandpa’s favourite (and only) coffee haunt the morning we drove back, it settled into my bones that I knew I would come back. I knew it surrounded by his friends, where nothing needs to be said but a comment here and there on the baseball game the night before, and the latest happenings in “the big town”.

His favourite waitress came to the funeral. As everyone filed past, shaking hands and speaking words, she introduced herself.  “I know,” I said. I did. Every morning, my grandpa would walk through the restaurant doors and call out “‘Morning, Norma,” before settling into the same seat he had settled into for years. She’d bring him a cup of coffee, and ask him how he was doing. “Oh,” he’d say, “Same as always”. At the funeral, I pulled her into a hug. Shakily, she said ” I’m going to miss him,” as tears welled up. “I know,” I said, “Me too”.

When I walked through the restaurant doors at 6:00 in the morning, I saw her, heavy-handed with coffee carafes.

“‘Morning, Norma,” I said.

She looked up and smiled, a thin, wan smile, but a smile.

I will go back. And they’ll all be there, before daybreak, coffee in one hand, and newspapers in the other.

photo credit: kootation.com

–photo credit: kootation.com–

When The Feathers Fall

It’s the height of summer and there’s nothing but warmth and sunlight and trees thick with green blowing in the soft breeze, here on the west coast of Canada. Everything is green. Everything is alive, and it feels like a lie.

We’ve lost so much, and still we stand. Not strong, but together. Somewhere outside the howling madness the reasons nudge their way in, explaining away the ragged holes in our family. It was for the best, they say. He didn’t want to live.

I know he didn’t want to live.

I knew when he looked at me across the kitchen table and said, broken-eyed, “I don’t want to go on, Emmy. I don’t want to go on anymore,” while his wife’s ashes took up a whole room of sorrow for themselves.

Hope is the thing with feathers, right?

What happens when the feathers fall, melting, too close to the sun? A small splash in an arcing, cosmic web of cyclical life and death. But when standing next to that splash, it’s easy to be soaked. Stand next to many, and the water soaks into your bones.

I’m aching with my mind and my heart.

I’m done with death.

a blogless abandon

Hi.

How’s it going, WordPress? I hear you’ve been getting along just fine without me, but I thought I’d pop back in and say “Salutations”.

Things have been, shall we say, a little raucous around these parts. A little topsy-turvy. Helter-skelter, even. After exams I flew out to visit my grandfather in the wild open prairies, utterly exposed to the wrath of Dust with nary a tree in sight. It was tough, seeing the man you crawled into bed with when you were five years old to watch Saturday morning cartoons (a real treat — we’ve never had cable in our house) brought to his knees like that. I can’t put a face to the grief he must be wading through, chest-deep, every day. The woman he loved for over sixty years, gone. I took some of her jewellery back with me, at his behest. I felt like a thief.

Then, the same day I flew back to Vancouver, glorious city surrounded by mountains, I repacked my bags and leapt into my pre-vacuumed and rather shiny (yet still scrappy and beat-up) 1992 Saturn Coupe, drove to my Christopher’s house, and nabbed him and all his worldly belongings. Well, not really. But I did pack him and his stuff into my dinky car and drive him up to Squamish, where we spent the first night together in ages. It’s hard to describe the feeling of sleeping next to someone you love after a long time, of being able to reach out in the night and touch them, pull them close. Silk is the closest I can get, silk charmeuse floating on a summer breeze. We woke up together, and set off on a road trip that included the sweetest hostel I’ve ever laid eyes on (Hostel Shilo-works), Skookumchuk hot springs, and a lot of corn pops.

The week I came back, I worked full-time and started the summer semester at SFU. I’m taking two medieval lit courses (awesome) and one 18th C. course (lord spare me). That same week, my cat died. It hasn’t been nearly as hard as it was when my dog died eight months ago, but it wasn’t easy. I grew up with that cat, she slept with me and woke me up by  stepping on my face. I’ll miss her. I do miss her.

Things haven’t been uneventful. I’m regaining my footing, though. And I will, life willing, be blogging more. I like blogging. I like you guys. Now if I can find a way to watch Game of Thrones while blogging, I’ll be on top of everything (two seasons in three days, I am a fiend). In the meantime, here:

a small sad, a strange: hug

i am strange today
usually the case, but now
see, i’d like a hug.

this strange is quiet
unsettling, almost sad
hell of an ordeal.

but not my ordeal
or is it? i’m relative
relative, right.

but relatively
i’m not too sad, as sad goes
i just need a hug.

© Emily Bragg 2013

Grief is a Strange Animal

It’s a lurking creature. You never know when it’s going to strike.

Earlier today, my grandmother passed away. She had been having heart complications for the past five weeks, and although we thought she was recovering, she suddenly took a turn for the worse yesterday. My mother and my uncle flew out to go be with her and my grandpa yesterday evening, and they were able to spend hours with her before she passes. Mum says she recognized them, which was important.

I’m not sad now. I might be, in five minutes, or an hour, or five days. I’m aching for my mum. I’m aching for my grandpa, because he’s lost the woman he spent his life with. But I’m not sad that she’s gone. Right now.
Right now I’m not sad that she’s gone.

There are people who you love because they’re incredibly nice, giving, generous people. There are people you love because they’re quirky, affectionate, friendly, because they have that special something that makes you click, and there are people that you love because they’ve stood by you in the hardest times of your life and made you laugh.

And then, there are people you love just because they’re family. I loved my grandmother because she was family, because she was human, and because of that, I can forgive the things she’s said. There’s no use holding grudges against those who are gone of this earth. I can forgive how she hurt my mother, I can forgive the things she did that made me burn with hatred because I don’t even think she knew she was doing it. It was how she learned to do things, I guess.

My favourite story of my grandmother was one she told me herself: the story of how she and my grandpa became an item. She was out with her girlfriends one day, eighteen and giggly, and a group of young men walked past. My grandma pointed at my grandpa, and told her girlfriends “That’s for me. That one’s for me.” I can still remember how her eyes triumphantly sparkled as she told me this story, finishing with “And now he is.” She had her heart set on him from the minute she laid eyes on him, and it’s with that kind of sweet romance that I’m going to remember her; as the young lady who swiftly chose her own man with all her heart.

I hope you hear me, grandma, somehow, when I say that I do love you. I’ve always loved you. I hope you give ’em hell wherever it is that you are, because lord knows you raised enough of it while you were here. Goodnight, Grandma Carol.

© Emily Bragg 2013