Permission to Fall Apart

Pretty is having a time.

It’s widely known in the family that her grandmother is dying soon. Pretty rented a car and drove two states in a night to be there and have some time with her Grandma before she passes. Right now, she’s having to go to a mortuary with her mother to “make arrangements”. She’s doing her best to hold it all together inside. But why should she? Why isn’t she allowed to fall apart? In her family, they keep up appearances above everything else. And that’s not bad, it’s just their way.

When my Grandma died, I wasn’t there. But I did get to fly out to be with my family for the little Memorial we had soon after. It was great to see my Mommy, my Step-Dad, my Little Step Brother, his wife, their child, my Aunt, my cousins, my Uncle, the cats…yeah, there were a lot of things going on. But it wasn’t about Grandma until Mom and I went to pick up The Ashes.

It was strange. I felt like I wasn’t really there. I felt like I was an awkward pre-teen standing around while the Grown-Ups handled things. I stood there and stared at the little box containing the earthly remains of my maternal grandmother. I knew she wasn’t in there, I knew her Spirit was finally at rest with my Grandpa; but it was strange to think of the body that held me as a baby and child, consoled me when I was growing up, confounded me as a teenager and young adult, that aggravated me as an adult, it was all packed into a box that I could hold with one hand.

And my Mom did just that, she handed my Grandma to me. Put ME in charge of the Box O’Grandma. I remember giving it a little pet and saying “Hi Grandma” in a really small voice. 

When we got into the car, I went to sit with my Grandma Box on my lap. Suddenly, I wanted it anywhere but on my lap. Before my Mom could start the car, I’d unbuckled my belt and bolted out the door for the rear passenger door. My Mom inquired as to what “the hell” I was doing; and I explained, “GOD FORBID something happen and we get into an accident! I don’t want to be WEARING OR SPITTING UP GRANDMA FOR WEEKS ON END!”

We laughed, it’s our way. We fall apart, but we also are Masters of Humor as Defense. My Mother’s family has a genetic predisposition for it. It’s a bit like a sitcom; we can be wailing, wringing our hands in despair…and then one of us will make a fart joke. It’s just what we do. 

And I’m glad. In that family, we have given ourselves the Permission to Fall Apart, but there’s something inside us that knows it’s ok to pick those pieces right back up without any doubt that it’s the right thing to do.



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