November has typically been a triggering month for me in the past. My birthday, my son’s birthday, and a couple of other important birthdays. This year was different though. At 6 AM November 17th, on my birthday, my grandmother Shirley passed away- likely to do with the treatment related to her kidney failure- but we’re not entirely sure. I would say I was as close to my grandmother as I could possibly be to a relative. I spent half my life living directly across the street from her. So she was not someone I just saw off and on.
Now, I’ve known for a real long time that my emotional processes are WAY different than most. When I’ve tried to explain this to others, I would often hear “well, wait until you lose someone close to you”. Well, now that I have…I can safely say that I was right and it didn’t make much difference. Yes, I felt bad for the loss of my Grandma Shirley. I felt worse because I didn’t feel as bad as I thought I should have. I fucking hate that.
As in many situations, I often use humor to get through dark, difficult, or tragic things. I know there were a few times during calling hours and around the funeral services I made people who were crying laugh. I know there was one point I could not stop snickering because I had been watching the Walking Dead and “you have to destroy the brain to keep them from coming back!” kept popping in my head. Or that older episode of South Park when the boys put a stick up the butt of Kyle’s grandmother’s corpse to use her as a puppet to scare some kids that were picking on them at Halloween. Or even going the intellectual route- burying her with a brick in her mouth which was a medieval practice to prevent vampires from rising. It would confuse the hell out of archaeologists in a couple hundred years. “They still believed in vampires in the 21st century?!” Also hilarious- to me anyway.
But I did what I learned to do a long time ago and KEPT MY MOUTH SHUT…mostly.
And that’s where the mental illness and differences really start to come into play. On the one hand, I’m Bipolar with a severe depression component. I’d say 80% of my cycles are of depression including my baseline mood. I’m sure it’s the reason that I haven’t cried due to emotional pain in several years. I really have no idea how long it’s been but I know it’s been a fucking long time. And then there is the autistic side of my brain. I often tell people I’m logical to a fault but they usually think I’m being coy.
So while we were at calling hours and the services; I heard on more than a few occasions how unexpected her passing was. I get that she was doing and getting better up until the day she died; but she was an 88 year old woman battling kidney failure. I don’t think it should have been that surprising to anyone. But my brain is a defective piece of shit so I knew that thought process was mostly my own and probably the result of the “logical to a fault” processes that rattle around in there.
And then calling hours and funerals are strange in general. “Do you want to say goodbye to your grandma?” “Do you want to see your grandma?” Yeah, I stepped forward; mostly for the benefit of my mother.
But really- that just wasn’t my grandmother. My grandmother was a lively, energetic woman who loved mowing her grass with her tractor, laughing, and periodically calling me shithead if I was picking on her too much. This was the same woman I had a 20 year argument with about her not giving me money to come over to her house and help her with things. As I finally revealed to my mother, I eventually figured out it was just easier to take the money and put it back in her purse when she wasn’t looking! Saved quite a bit of arguing. And wouldn’t you know my grandmother had given my mother birthday money for me just before she passed? I took it as excellent timing on her part- a final, stubborn “HA! I WIN!” from my grandmother.
That figure in that casket was not my grandmother. It was just a corpse; a shell, a vessel for the spirited, wonderful woman who often managed to frustrate and love me equally at times. And that is exactly why I will be cremated and dumped out somewhere. Or- I think it would also be funny to piece my body out into like five sections and have them buried in completely different states just to screw with future generations trying to do genealogical research. That is also acceptable.
Anyway, this vessel is nothing without my active intellect, my heart, and my soul. If those things are gone then it ceases to be me. That goes if I’m in a vegetative state too. If I can’t think, then I might as well be dead. To borrow a joke from Chris Titus, “And don’t pull the plug and let me die slow and horrible. You duct tape my ass to a motorcycle and jump me over Snake River Canyon to break Evel Knievel’s record. Film it and release DVDs to help support my family. I want to be brain-dead over Snake River Canyon!”
And of course, funerals are mostly for the living rather than the dead. “I’m sure Shirley will be with you.” “I’m sure she’s watching over you.”
Man I hope not. I really don’t want my grandmother to know what kind of porn I watch or how often I just hang out pantsless. That’s not cool. How fucking boring would that be? You die, there turns out to be an afterlife, and you get stuck here? Look; I love my family and have plenty of people in my life I care about…but if there is an afterlife my fat ass isn’t hanging around here. I want to see shit, learn shit, delve into whatever I can possibly explore. And possibly vacation here to haunt my brother because fuck that guy!
I’m not religious for numerous reasons that I’m not going to tirade about here; but I hope my grandmother was able to move on to the Heaven she desired. I know she missed my grandfather who passed awhile back and had many friends she would probably want to see again. I’m sure she would want to watch over her daughter- my mother.
It’s strange how many things wind up being a double-edged sword. The fact that I am so muted to emotional circumstances most of the time makes it really easy for me to deal with emotional people whether they are enraged or deeply sad. But on the other hand, you have situations like my grandmother’s death where I wasn’t able to shed tears for someone I was close to.
Ah well. I hope my grandmother found what she was looking for out of her afterlife; if any. She was a great woman and I was lucky to have her in my life as I did. Maybe I’ll see her again, maybe I won’t. Time will tell.
Subscribe to have blog posts and news delivered straight to your Inbox!