Thursday, April 16, 2009

Grandparents' Gathering

After I picked up my parents at the ferry dock yesterday afternoon, they got settled in at home. A little while later, they came over to have dinner with us and Gregg's parents. Dinner with all four grandparents is always a treat. David showed them the photos of his trip to France, and the conversation flowed freely.

It's been a very gradual thing for me to be able to host a dinner party, even for our parents. My brain has not worked as well as it did before Katie passed away. (I used to be able to have 35+/- people for a dinner and not have it be a big deal.) Since Katie's passing, I couldn't seem to get the gears in my mind to mesh. But yesterday, they did. We had oven-roasted potatoes, roasted vegetables, teriyaki-ginger-marinated flank steak (which Gregg barbecued), and frosted gingerbread cake for dessert, with coffee. Nothing was burned; nothing was forgotten. The wine was tasty (14 Hands 2006 Washington State Merlot); the hors d'oeuvres were devoured (pickled herring, artichoke spread with capers, and anchovies [for my dad & me]).

I feel as if I am beginning to be able to do some of the things that I used to do. This makes me believe even more strongly that grief is very much like an illness. Grieving the loss of Katie's presence in my daily life is like a physical and mental ailment, that has come over me and blocked many of my receptors. Grief makes it necessary to slow down and not try to accomplish as much as I used to be able to do. It felt as if the only natural response, for me, was to sit with the pain and the heaviness, and wait until they lifted a bit. To do ordinary things, like cleaning our house; to try to re-learn how to cook (after eating hospital food, and meals that were prepared for us, for nearly 10 months).

If I follow through with the idea that it's like an illness, grief can be observed to affect each person differently, and have a different process or progression in each individual. Gregg's survival strategy has been to go to work all through this experience, except for the two weeks immediately after Katie's passing, when he took time off, and the three of us stayed together. David has benefited from going to school, participating in sports, and playing the piano when he feels like it. He has gradually developed new relationships, and restored some of the old ones that were impacted by our move to Seattle.

Our parents have always been close to our children, and we planned it that way. They have shared our joy in our children, and our grief, in their own ways. Gregg & I are happy that our kids have grown up knowing their grandparents well. All four of them are a blessing in our lives. We live about 5 minutes' drive away from both pairs (except when my parents are in the desert), which makes visiting a breeze. They had only been home for about 3 hours, and David was already planning to golf with my dad and sleep over at my parents' place as soon as possible!


Elizabeth said...

That's so wonderful that both sets of parents are still alive and that you're able to be together. I think the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is just so special, and I'm glad that David has such a rich heritage, alive, in his life!

Elizabeth said...

I forgot to write how beautifully you explained grief as an illness. I've never heard that before and think it's very interesting and apt.

Jason, as himself said...

This all makes me so happy inside.

Kay said...

Sounds like you had a delightful time! Simply beautiful! I'm glad you could get it all done without burning anything. (food's always better when it's not burned LOL)

Hugs to you, friend!

Gannet Girl said...

I did a presentation today at my seminary about grief and talked about many of these things -- the cognitive, memory, and energy consequences. They are very hard to accomodate and no one whon has not been through it understands how dramatic they are.

ChiTown Girl said...

How great for your kids to have all four grandparents around! Stud is lucky enough to have the same thing, and they all live within 5-10 minutes from us. Unfortunately, we aren't lucky enough to all spend time together, given that my ex and I are now divorced. But, Stud sees ALL of his grandparents regularly :)

Busy Bee Suz said...

I really like your perspective on the grief/illness connection. That somehow makes sense to me.
I love the family picture and you are so blessed to have both sets of parents alive AND living so close...I think that Kids who grow up around their elders benefit so much form the wisdom and compassion that they witness.
Your dinner sounds lovely...well aside from those anchovies. REally? you eat those? I am started to re-think this friendship we have now.... :)
take care,

Laurie Brandriet Keller said...

I love hearing these words of the heaviness in your heart being lifted enough for you to host such a great gathering. Both sets of parents in your life is awesome. I love you!