The Darkness

Today is darker than it was yesterday and yesterday darker than the day before that.

The world lost a beautiful light this week. At 96 years old, Brett’s grandmother slipped peacefully from this world and into the next. The world is a little less bright now.

All of my grandparents passed away before I graduated high school so I was surprised that Brett’s grandmother was still living when we started dating when he was 26. I was always envious of his easy connection to the past. While vivid memories of my own grandparents were easy to bring up, I wasn’t able to ask any more questions or hear any more stories like he could.

When I met her, she used a walker to offset weight on a bad knee and had a hearing aid – even though you still had to speak pretty loudly for her to hear you. But she was with it in a way that many people her age were not. Sometimes I’d hear she and Sandy speaking Cajun French to each other – it was the language of instruction for Mommom growing up in South Louisiana – and was always touched by the intimacy that the shared language created between them. I know Keith understood some of it but as far as I know, he really just knew the bad words, so in some ways they were in their own little world. Of course Mommom didn’t always even need words. Sometimes she’d just say, “Sandy…” and do a little point and nod combination to indicate more crawfish etouffee, gumbo, or brownies. Then she’d chuckle to herself when Sandy would say she knew she’d want more.

We’ve missed a lot of things while we’ve been in Scotland: birthdays, family gatherings, family trips, family drama, happy hours, shopping trips, etc. This is the first loss we’ve experienced, though. Being so far away, part of you doesn’t have to confront the reality. Part of you moves blissfully through the world, untouched by the loss. The other part of you feels extreme guilt for not being there. For not being there for the end of life, for not being there for the funeral. I know that Mommom wouldn’t have wanted us to make the journey for either of those things. If posed the question, she would have set back in her chair and said, “Oh no! Don’t do that” with her Cajun lilt. Still, you can’t help feeling that you should have.

While Brooks and Mia’s memories of Mommom will most likely be faint due to their age, we will at least be able to tell them how much Mommom loved watching them grow and how she kept their pictures up around her house – proud of her great-grandchildren. I only met three of my grandparents. One of my grandfathers was lost to lung cancer many years before I was born. Growing up I always heard stories of what my grandfather would have thought/said, what he would have done. I’m glad that I’ll be able to tell my children stories of what their great-grandmother actually did, what she actually said to them. I know too that her spirit lives on – and definitely her genes since both of my kids heavily favor the Allemans – in Brooks and Mia. I know that they’ll make her proud.

Coinciding with the darkness of grief is the physical darkness of Aberdeen. When the sun rises close to 8AM and sets before 4PM, it certainly doesn’t help feelings of sadness. The nights seem incredibly long and it always feels like the kids are up WAY past their bedtime.

Brooks was a horribly baby with the worst colic. I remember crying into the phone to a friend about how I’d never sleep again. My friend said that with kids, everything is a phase. The good stuff is a phase that will pass and so is the bad. I hope that is true in this situation as well. I hope that the darkness lingering over us is a phase that will pass as sure as the consistently encroaching darkness is also a phase that will come to an end.

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Mommom (94 – I think) and Mia at 3 or 4 months