Still Not Over It…

Still not over it.

I once asked a friend, why grieving someone who died was so difficult, and he said, “Maybe it’s because we were never supposed to die, so we’re not supposed to be okay.”

Sooner or later we all end up dead, which is kinda why I think we all like to keep ourselves busy with being busy, and worryin’ about stuff that really ain’t that important, so we can just live in a constant state of denial.

Because the minute we face the hard things, we have to start asking the hard questions, and many questions don’t have answers, and the only answers that allow us to sleep at night are the ones that make us face those hard questions…they always do and always will require a whole lotta faith…and even when we don’t have a whole lotta faith, what faith we do have, we cling onto for dear life…and why…because without out it…standing on the very edge of the grand canyon is a less scary task.

Nothing lasts. Robin Williams is dead. Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead. And so is my Grandma. One of my best childhood friends has a degenerative brain disease, and is till here, but at the same time- not. I love my cousins, but hate my childhood, but even that I miss from time to time.

I look at my daughter Lucy, and I already don’t want her to grow up. Except, less diapers would be nice. I want the euphoria of being her dad to last forever, and the hugs, kisses, and cuddle times to never stop. But one day they will. Because inevitably one day…she will be a teenager, and be too cool for dad. But little does she know, that’s impossible to be cooler than me. One day she’ll get that, though. But because I love her, I may let her think she’s cooler than me. Time will tell.

Even more so now, I love that we gave Lucy’s middle name, the same name as my Grandma’s. But my heart aches that Lucy will never know what G-ma was like. She’ll never know her laugh, or her hugs. She won’t know her silliness or her sassiness. She won’t get to experience her love, as it was so unique and beautiful.

I have no agenda as I write today, as if I ever do, I only write when I just can’t keep it in any longer. And it’s been over a month since my grandma died. And I can’t keep it in. Life goes on. It must, it has to, and it will. We don’t have any say in the matter. But I’m just not over it, and may never be, and probably won’t.

But that’s okay. I think I don’t want to be, because it’s the pain that reminds me of her. And I miss her very much. And I’d rather have pain, and remember her, that not- and forget.

I love you Grandma. I’m not okay today, but as I’ve learned the hard way. That’s okay. It has to be.

David

“It’s okay, to not be okay.”

-Brennan Manning

My Past Blog that I never posted when my Grandma passed:

Remembering Roanna Jane

I’m so glad God invented cigarettes and the ocean. Because last night after I heard my grandma died, all I wanted to do is sit on the beach, and have a cigarette. And that’s exactly what I did. Her name was Roanna, but her friends called her “Roxie”, and I called her G-ma. Roanna. What a perfect old lady name. She definitely grew into the name. She lived to the age of 90. Matter of fact, yesterday was her birthday. She got to die and go to heaven on her birthday. That’s one hell of a birthday present. It may be weird, but she wasn’t so much grandma to me, as she was my mom. My biological mom, had me too young. We lived next door, and for most of my life we lived with grandma. Growing up she would say, “You know why you’re so special”, and I’d say…”Why Grandma?” and she’d say…”Because your Jewish”. I wasn’t really. My Dad’s side of the family was, which meant I wasn’t. But what she taught me was to value my heritage, and I did. I very much did. She taught me many other things, but perhaps my favorite is “cards.” Perhaps, because it’s wrapped with so many fond memories of her teaching me and my cousins how to play poker. She would rant and rave with the same stories of how her brothers were card sharks, and she, with a wry grin, was one too…and she really was. She was in her day, sharp. And her sharpness was only matched by her sassiness.

But perhaps my favorite memory of playing cards was when we’d play B.S. with my cousins. We’d sit around the kitchen table, and whenever she’d want to call “B.S.” on one of us cousins…we’d say, “Nope…you have to say it Grandma”…And she wouldn’t want to …but eventually she got the giggles, and blush red and go “Okay, fine Bull Shit.” Speaking of…that’s the type of Christianity she taught me. She taught me about Jesus, and Christianity with no bull shit. She didn’t know she was doing this, but she was. I have a few heroes in my faith, but no one beats G-ma. To her Christianity had nothing to do with religion, or rules, but simply and radically about Jesus. What always caught me off guard growing up, was how she talked about him, like he was an old friend, a best friend, a constant friend. I love the memory I have of waking up around 4 or 5 in the morning when I was 11 or 12 and walking to the restroom, and I saw her in the living room, by herself, on her hands and knees praying. I don’t know what she was praying. Maybe for forgiveness. Maybe for the family. Maybe for me. But it was simple moments like that that made me realize that her faith was …to put it in my midwestern vernacular…”the real deal.”

But guess what, she had her hang ups too. Matter of fact, if I’m being honest, I think there was a lot wrong with my grandma. She did a lot of good, but I think she did a lot of bad too. As I was thinking about that this morning, a verse in the Bible came to my mind…Luke 7:47: “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” My Grandma didn’t love little…she loved a lot.

I loved that my Grandma had a good sense of humor. She had to. Especially when she had grandchildren that would lock her in the bedroom, while we used the whole house to film a “comedy sketch.” You’d hear her, “Can I come out now?” “No Grandma, we’re not done yet…a few more hours.” But perhaps my favorite demonstration of her comic timing was when I used to travel the country with a group of ragamuffin friends in a group called, “The Color Green.” We would show up to some church camp, and we had a little test we’d do with the camp speaker to see if he was someone we could be ourselves with…we’d get the camp speaker and we’d call my grandma and put her on the speaker phone…here’s basically how the conversation would go.

Grandma: Hello…

David: Grandma it’s David…

Grandma: Hi sweetie how are you? where are you?

David: I’m at a camp …

Grandma: Aren’t you a little old to be going to camp…

David: No grandma I’m not going to camp…I’m…never mind…hey, listen I’ve got a group of my friends here …

The Color Green Guys: Hi Grandma!!!!

Grandma: Hi, boys…I’ve met you right?

(laughter)

David: Yes, Grandma you’ve met them. Hey, we met this new person and we want you to do that thing…

Grandma: No…I’m not doing that again…

David: Come on Grandma…

Grandma: No, David. I won’t…

David: Grandma…please…please just tell them what you used to call me.

Grandma: David please don’t make me. I’m a good Christian woman. I can’t say that.

David: Come on Grandma…

Grandma: No, I won’t ….I can’t…I’m a good Christian…Alright, fine. You were a little SHIT ASS!

(Tons of laughter…then there was no stoping her)

Grandma: Well, you were. You were a little shit ass. I loved you. But you drove me nuts. You were a smart ass, and a shit ass. Look at what you’re making me do right now!

(even more laughter)

David: Thanks Grandma. I love you.

Grandma: I love you too, shit ass.

(laughter)

Grandma: Well, you were….

I never really understood what was happening in the beginning, whether it was dementia, or Alzhiemers, I was used to the circular conversations. I’d have to explain to her why I lived in California over and over, but one Christmas she called, me “Dan” instead of David. That’s when I knew it was the beginning of the end. And things would never be the same. With the passing years, I went from Grandson, to familiar, to a stranger. It sucked. I hate Alzheimers with a passion. I’ve hated for years that my Grandma has lost her memory. What a shitty way to go out. But this morning I was encouraged by something small, and beautiful. I was on a walk with my daughter, and I passed by one of those churches, that has I don’t know what you call them…marquee signs out front…I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them…but they usually have a Bible Verse…or in most cases some awful cheesy, bull crap on there…I’m the first to make fun of those if you can’t tell…but today I’m glad they exist. I needed it. Today I walked by and it said…”Blessed are those than can give without remembering.”…That’s my Grandma. She gave, she sacrificed, she loved, and she prayed for me, and all of us for who knows how many countless nights…in the middle of the night….and in the end…she didn’t remember any of it. She’ll always be a saint to me.

Okay let me get weird for a second. We’ve known this was all coming to an end for Grandma. My aunts are heroes who fought for her to die with peace and dignity. I didn’t do anything. Except pray. Pray for Grandma to just go home. Ever since I can remember Grandma has been saying, “I can’t wait to die, and go be with Jesus.” I mean…She said it all the time. If you spent any time with her, you might say, and you’d be right, she said it too much. But I kinda like to think, that it wasn’t so much morbid, as it just really was where her heart was. I think she was a little beat up by life, and never really learned how to live it in some ways, but she was obsessed with the love of Jesus, and simply…just going home. All I’ve been thinking and praying for the past few years is…”Just take her home. That’s where her heart has been as long as I can remember anyway. God just take her home.”….I got the call a couple nights ago, that it was looking like this was it. Then yesterday morning, I journaled. I never really do that anymore, and I prayed, “Abba God, take her home today. Let her bathe in your compassionate glory.” My sweet and beautiful Auntie Dianna called, me and I got to talk in her ear, as the nurse said “The hearing is the last to go.” I said, “Grandma I love you. I’m excited you get to go home to be with Jesus today, and I’m so thankful for all you did for me in my life. I love you.” I think I heard her moan. But I can’t be sure. I may always regret not saying more, but nevertheless that’s what came out in that moment. Okay, now it’s going to get weirder….later that night we were at a friends house…and we put our daughter to bed in a pack-n-play…but being in a strange place she wasn’t sleeping…just crying….so around 8pm I went in there…and the only way she would stop crying is if I just held her. Lucy Jayne laid her head on my chest and fell asleep. I held her tight, and I began to pray…”God take Grandma home tonight. Take away her pain. She doesn’t remember anything anymore. Let her be with you, and see her granddaughter who shares her same middle name.” Anyway I laid her down. A few hours later, I found out that Grandma passed away. This morning i discovered that she passed away at 11:15 Indiana Time, which would have been around the time I was holding Lucy, and praying that final prayer. Weird, huh. I don’t even know why I’m telling you this. I’m really rambling. Maybe its because I’m just trying to hold onto something right now, like I’m in an earthquake, just looking for stable ground. Maybe there was something mystical about yesterday…Grandma dying on her birthday, passing away at the same time I was praying that prayer…or maybe none of it was mystical at all. I frankly don’t give a shit. I’m just glad she’s not in pain anymore, and she’s with Jesus.

G-ma,

I remember being in the first grade, I had to read these books to an adult. I’d lay in your bed and read. I’d finish my little, book and then I’d read another, and another. It’s not as impressive as it sounds, as these books were for six year olds. But I thought I was impressive. Grandma, you, made me feel that way. You always did. You were always there for me. In the second grade I remember her taking me to “Rally’s” for dinner and then to see “Back to the Future 2”. It’s just those little moments that stick out to me. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be a Christian. But you showed me something else. You showed me what a relationship with God could be like in an authentic way. Not one where you put up facades for other people to think you’re something you’re not. You showed me what it was like to be faithful, even when our nature betrays us. You simply taught me to fail well. To get up out of the dirt, shake the dust off and keep on going. You taught me that Christians can be assholes, but not to let that ruin the reality that Jesus is real, and his love is deep and wide. You, more than most, taught me to forgive even when people hate you and mistreat you. I can’t say you taught me to be funny, because I think my funnier-than-me cousins share the credit there, but you taught be to be joyous because this was the day that the Lord hath made. You taught me to be strong often saying, “Growing old ain’t for wussies.” Grandma, I don’t know how death works, but I kinda think you died a long time ago, and your body just caught up. You taught me that we live in a broken, and fallen world filled with a lot of shit and pain. And you lived it, and experienced it. In the beginning, in the middle, and in the end. I just love you Grandma. I just miss you. And frankly, I’ve missed you for a long time, now. I hope you see with your new eyes now and can see how beautiful Lucy is. There are moments when she smiles, when I see your smile. It’s a quick glance, like a shooting star. No one else may see it, but I do. And that’s enough, I suppose. Tell Jimmy I say hi, and I love him too. I’ll see you on the other side, and we’ll dance, play cards, and I’ll probably find some room to lock you in because I’ll need to film some type of comedy sketch.

your little shit ass,

David

**I just needed to write this for me today. To put it out there, for fellow friends who knew grandma so I didn’t have to send a bunch of texts and calls, but I have a favor to ask. Please keep the “Christian-ese” down to a minimum on the comment section. I can’t handle it right now. If it’s too much I may throw my computer out the window. If you really feel the need you can DM me.

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~ by David Leo Schultz on June 9, 2015.

4 Responses to “Still Not Over It…”

  1. David – thank you for being real and giving us a glimpse of your heart. I always appreciate that about you. Your writing reminds me a lot of Frederick Buechner, one of my favorites. Your Grandmother sounds like she was real hoot and I could SO see you locking her in the room to film for a few hours! What a great memory. I don’t pretend to have the questions as I have a lot of the same questions at times. Almost had to face the same thing this past weekend when Dad had a heart attack. Thankfully he’ll be around to pick on a while longer as long as he does what the docs say.

    So I guess I’m just writing to send you a hug and to say thank you for being real. We need more of that in the world. As Plumb sings..”it’s okay to not be okay…this is a safe place…this is a safe place.” You are loved!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Dave,I am with you in this also. I too know the pain of loss and will forever be changed. To God be the glory!!!!

  3. You learned a lot faster than I did, David. Years after my brother died I finally got around to writing a book about ‘it’. A grief counselor posted on Amazon that my book was one of a very few that she would give to people in the early stages of grief, partly because of this in the forward:

    “Part of my hope in putting these thoughts, adventures and emotions to paper is that someone else may be encouraged by the commonalities of how we muddle through losing someone when it’s not yet supposed to be their turn.
    While the memories that are rekindled will be unique to each friend and family, the desire and need to move on will always conflict with the need and desire to stay and reflect in the moment. The need to breathe will always prevail over the gravitational pull toward total silence. And the idea to write a book to teach others how to deal with their grief will either be forgotten, or you will do it. Either way, that hole in your heart will stay with you. And that’s okay.
    Knowing that you are not the first person, nor will you be the last, to have no idea what it is you are supposed to do next—or what it was you were supposed to have done then—might bring you a little peace, if not patience.
    Life does go on. Laughter doesn’t die. Loneliness cries less as you go along, and will eventually stop dominating the conversation.”

    Forgive the presumption of posting this here, but I heard a lot of this in your words, and just couldn’t help it.

    Happy for your Grandma, sorry for your loss and that new-found hole.

  4. I’m sorry for your loss but happy that her pain is gone and she is with Jesus. It’s a strange thing to come to that place where we pray for their quick and quiet death rather than for them to stay with us. I lost my mormor (grandma) in 2013 and I know it can be really hard. We were really close when I was growing up. She had dementia and like you said with your grandma, she was still here but not really. We were lucky that she still knew my name and my parents’ names though she forgot pretty much everything else. Dementia of any kind truely sucks and I cannot imagine the pain of her not recognizing you. My mormor’s dementia was bad enough and painful to see as it was. Idk if it’s true but as my mormor laid on her deathbed in a state of morphine induced unconsciousness, the doctors and nurses said that it seems even unconscious people can feel the presence of loved ones. They had seen elderly people cling to some level of life and die shortly after loved ones stepped out of the room. Perhaps somewhere beyond her ability to understand or communicate she felt that. When I read the line about getting old not being for wusses I had to smile. My mormor said getting old wasn’t for sissies for years, even before severe dementia and physical limitations set in.

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