That was the hardest part about it - telling my own children. My daughter began to cry immediately. "Grandma can't die," she got out between sniffles, "I love her." It took longer to sink into my son; he didn't start crying for a minute or two, but then sobbed, and I mean sobbed, for 45 minutes. Then the questions began:
"How did she die?"
"Did she what to be cremated?"
"Where is she right now?"
"Where will they put her?"
These all stem from the loss of our good friend last winter. Somehow I know that losing Karen helped prepare them for this loss, not that you can really be prepared to lose someone you love. But they, my son (who is six) at least, understands that dying means that person is gone and we'll not see them again. The book When Dinosaurs Die has been a big help as well. If you have children and you don't own this book, you should get it.
So we've been talking a lot about keeping Grandma Mary alive in our hearts and remembering all the special things about her:
How she let them ride on her scooter and how they loved to race up and down the hallway where she lived. How she always seemed to have a sweet treat for them when they visited, and most importantly, how her face lit up when they walked into her room. They brought great joy into her life and she loved them so very much.
I am trying to remember that despite how much my heart aches today, my children and I are the luckiest of all Mary's grandchildren. Of her 16 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, (who are spread out over six states and three continents,) my children and I were the only ones who got to see her on a regular basis. We were a part of her life and she a part of ours and the memories we have make the tears bearable.
Good-bye Grandma Mary. We love you. And while I know you were a staunch atheist and did not believe in an afterlife of any kind, if you happen to discover that you were incorrect I hope you have a comfortable chair, a very sharp pencil, and an unending supply of crossword puzzles from the New York Times...