Last night was summer solstice and I stood in the darkness by the river, weeping without entirely knowing why. It had been a beautiful day but lonely. After sessions I had mourned my solitude even as I’d appreciated its authenticity.
I woke thinking of my grandmother’s funeral and knew she had come through again. She doesn’t return often–only when I really need her. She rarely shows up in a big glorious visitation because that’s not how my intuition works and that’s not how she works. She arrives in an essay, a wrinkle in time, a shining, shared solitude.
She died a few days before my 18th birthday; the funeral happened a few days after it. I was so conscious that no one could ever again legally lay claim upon either of our bodies.
We were free, and it was terrible.
I had loved my grandmother and not felt sure of her. That’s the best way to phrase it. It’s not that she didn’t talk. She spoke when she had something to say. She just wasn’t the type to hold forth. More, she was was the type who listened and to whom others paid court.
By default and by virtue of her quiet self-possession, she was the matriarch of our large, wild family. There was no patriarch. My grandfather had died when he was not much older than I am now, and I’m not sure he ever reigned easily. I never met him –he died months before my parents married–but heard tell of fights, fugues. Futwahs.
My grandmother reigned easily. Everyone confided in her—speedily, anxiously—and she listened with the lids of her large blue eyes lowered at half-mast. You could never tell if she was rapt or bored. That question lived at the center of every exchange she ever had, I think. Continue Reading →