Log in

16 May 2013 @ 06:26 pm
week one - "you gave everything you possibly could"  
For therealljidol week one. Topic: "You gave everything you possibly could."

I teamed up with oxymoron67 :)

"You did all you could. You gave all you could. He gave all you could. They did all they could. Everyone gave all they could.". Over and over in my head. "You did all you could". I almost laughed as I'd repeat the words to myself. It didn't matter if I was talking about me... my mother... my father... or him. My grandfather. It didn't matter, because at the time, the words meant nothing. Even now, as I write this, I have to remind myself that it's true... "you gave all you could.". I know that now. Usually.

Since I was three years old, when my mothers father passed away, I had two grandparents. My mothers mother - an amazing woman who I am still close to, talk to on the phone once a week even if it's just to hear about how I never call, and see at least a few times a month. As children, my brother and I were at her house practically as much as our own. We spent some weekends there or if our parents went away whether for a day or a week, we'd go there. And then there was my fathers father. A wonderful man. He lived within local distance usually too. He went down south for some winters, but the rest of the time, he was around. I would guess we'd see him... hmmm... if you don't count holidays, maybe three times a year. He'd pop over, take us for ice cream, he once took me to a baseball game. We just weren't close. I was okay with that, because it had always been like that. It was just what I knew. We'd even had silly arguments. Like, one year, he called me on my birthday to say happy birthday. I wasn't home and I got the message and didn't call him back. Obviously now I know I should have, but as a kid, I just figured, okay, he was calling to say happy birthday, thanks, that's cool, sorry I missed him. When I saw him two weeks later, he had a birthday card and a check for me but he wouldn't give it to me until I apologized for not calling him back. Things like that. Again, I saw nothing weird. It was just how it had always been.

In 2003, he became sick. To this day, I don't know all of the details. What I do know is that while he was not any kind of drinking during the day-always drunk-intervention time drinker, he and his friends certainly did enjoy their alcohol. I saw him drunk once when I was eleven (a time when some kids have been drunk themselves at least once.) and it scared me. That was just the type of kid I was. I guess it all caught up with him. According to what I know, what actually began the infection that would take his life, was a simple bladder infection.

When I learned he was in the hospital, I started panicking. "What if he dies?" I would say to myself. "I barely even know the man. What on earth is that, even? How do I barely know him? My cousins know him. Why don't we?". I promised that, if he made it through, I would change things. I didn't really know how I would do that, but I would. I was eighteen at the time, an adult, old enough to make a difference in my own life. and my own relationships, right?

It didn't matter. He didn't make it through. We all gathered at my uncles house the next day and my cousins and I went downstairs and started comparing notes. It was decided that only one of us would speak, an honor give, with little to no debate, to the oldest of us, my cousin Miriam. As everyone started talking - my brother, myself and six of our cousins (my sister and one other cousin were really too young at the time I guess.), I glanced over at my brother shaking my head. I had always known my grandfather had been closer to my cousins than us but they had STORIES! I mean, they had stories the way we did with our grandmother. How could it be that we all came from the same place - my grandfather had three sons - and things were SO different... only for us? Why? How?

I made it through the funeral, then the traditional Jewish mourning period of "shivah" and then I figured, "well.... nothing left to do but move on." Right?


Try as I might, I COULDN'T move on. I was stuck in this horrible intense grief that would make no sense from a simple standpoint. I hadn't known him incredibly well. Yes, he was my family, he was my GRANDFATHER. But the grief I had was unbearable. I stopped going to school for weeks at a time. I didn't leave of my house for days. I didn't care about anything. I don't even think I cared about anyONE - including myself. let my passions die right along with him. I let my friendships slide. I broke up with my boyfriend at the time. (Not that we were going to end up together forever by any stretch anyway, but we were having fun... until I stopped caring.) I cried all the time. Nobody got it. I was not functioning.

You see, death does funny things to a person. People with amazing close relationships often feel guilt when their loved ones pass because of harsh words said here or there or a fight they had the week before. And the grief that comes from the death of any loved one is unexplainable. And I believe that everyone feels and experiences it differently. And in this situation.... I felt it in ways I still can't properly put into words. I don't think William Shakespeare could put THOSE feelings into words and describe them as they were.

It. Was. Bad.

To this day, I don't think anyone except maybe my brother understands how bad it was. He was the only one I REALLY shared this with. Everyone knew what had happened, but nobody knew what was happening in my head.

I knew I was feeling guilt. That was when I started telling myself that I did all I could. I'd say those words over and over again. Never believing them. Not once.

It took a long time and some help, but I began to see that the reason I was grieving so heavily was actually not just guilt - but also deep rooted and scarily dark anger. See... I was mad. At myself, yes, TRUST me, I was mad at myself. But I was also mad at my mother. I knew she and my grandfather, while perfectly civil, were not particularly close and that that MUST have had a lot to do with him not coming around as often as he did with my cousins and their families. Right? I was mad at my father. Why hadn't he insisted? And the worst was I was mad at HIM. Why hadn't HE insisted? We were his grandkids too! Why didn't he fight and say to my dad "I want to see the kids"??? Nobody would have stopped him. Right? I was SO angry. And I carried that anger for a very long time.

Eventually , I went to a therapist for a non related issue and this came up. With her help, I was able to see that my mother couldn't help that she and my grandfather weren't close - some people just aren't. That my father SHOULD have pushed more, yes. But, I wasn't in their battle - if there even was a battle. I didn't know what went on. I didn't know how much he did or didn't push and why. My grandfather - where did I get off judging his efforts when I had no idea what they actually were? What was he to do, bound into our house on Friday nights and sit down to dinner without being invited? And myself - that was the hardest one of all for me to get over. You see, I know now that I was the child. was the CHILD. What exactly could I have changed? As a child, growing up among this being "just the way it was", what more could I give? Yes, I was eighteen when he passed, but not when all this started or became "normal". It was ALWAYS normal as far as I knew. It was unfair to expect myself to have changed that as a child or even as a teenager. It wasn't up to me. Of everyone to be angry at, my therapist explained, it should not be a child who was brought INTO a situation.

I am not saying I am "over" it. I still have regrets. I WISH things had been different. But I know it is unfair to hold myself, my parents or my grandfather at fault for such a complicated situation that I wasn't privy to the details of. Did I give everything I could to that relationship? Maybe not, but I did everything I think could be reasonably expected of someone in my position. Did my parents give everything they could? Well...once again, I was not privy to all of their reasons, their debates, their decisions. I have to assume that, yes, they gave everything they COULD. That may not be everything I think they SHOULD have but everything they COULD.

And my grandfather. The man who is not here to "defend" himself. (Not that I am attacking him.) The man who was always wonderful to us when we did see him, even if he was trying to teach me a lesson by not giving me my money until I apologized to him for not returning a phone call (or perhaps especially then).... did HE do all he could?


Here's the way I see it.

He saw us. He did sometimes try to do things with us that were rejected by my parents - for their own reasons. He loved us. He never missed a birthday or a holiday, even if it was just with a phone call and a card and check in the mail. He never talked harshly to me, not once. I have few memories compared to my cousins, true. But I am not my cousins and my parents are not theirs. More than anything, he loved us. I had two grandfathers. One passed away when I was three. I don't remember him, but I know he loved me. And one passed away when I was eighteen, putting me into a debilitating state of grief, loss, sadness, blame and anger... and I know he loved me. And that's all that matters now.

And, so, without getting into a debate about what happens when one dies.... if there is some kind of way that he is with me right now, watching as I type this, hearing my thoughts as I think about him... I just want you to know... that even though I probably barely said it... I love you. And you... with the time you had, the environment you were in, the situation you were given.... at this point and this point is all that matters.... you gave everything you possibly could.
oxymoron67oxymoron67 on May 17th, 2013 01:35 am (UTC)
I think this is beautifully written and heartbreaking in a very different way from my entry. Grief can be very debilitating and uncomfortable to discuss, and I think you were brave to write this.

I think our intersection worked out well. Thanks for partnering with me!
Stephneverletyoupart on May 17th, 2013 02:58 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. <3 Loved working with you!
Stephneverletyoupart on May 20th, 2013 06:16 pm (UTC)
I thought I had said in the comment that I was thankful for your partnership as well but I don't see it so in case that was in my imagination...lol...thank you for being my partner on this! :)
medleymistymedleymisty on May 18th, 2013 05:42 pm (UTC)

Everything else I type sounds kind of stupid to me, so...*more hugs*
Stephneverletyoupart on May 20th, 2013 06:15 pm (UTC)
Not stupid at all. I am grateful I could make you feel anything and I will take the hugs gratefully and send you some back. :) *hugs.*
Stephneverletyoupart on May 20th, 2013 06:17 pm (UTC)
Oh I read that wrong....you didn't say you sounded stupid. Good. Cause you didn't. LOL. Either way, what I said stands. ;)
Desireex_disturbed_x on May 18th, 2013 11:17 pm (UTC)
I really don't know what to say. I'm quite speechless.

*hugs also* I am at a loss of words and hope I don't come off to silly. ;)
Stephneverletyoupart on May 20th, 2013 06:18 pm (UTC)
No, not at all. It makes me feel grateful that me telling my story was able to make others feel anything at all so that comment meant much more to me than I am sure you think. :) *hugs back* :)
adoptedwriteradoptedwriter on May 20th, 2013 02:11 pm (UTC)
So emotional and powerful. I'm sure my kids have some of these feelings about their deceased grandfather and may one day feel this about my mom and their other grandma who has Alzheimer's. AW
Stephneverletyoupart on May 20th, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you so so much. I hope, if they do have similar feelings, they will be able to express them somehow sooner than I was. This is certainly the most open I've ever been about it and it felt very therapeutic. I have been debating showing it to one or both of my parents. (they are separated now.) I'm not sure yet but I am grateful I could share it with you guys.
notodettenotodette on May 21st, 2013 04:01 pm (UTC)
Wrenching. Very well done.
Stephneverletyoupart on May 29th, 2013 12:00 am (UTC)
Thanks so much. <3
tatdatcmtatdatcm on May 22nd, 2013 04:29 am (UTC)
This was beautifully written. I love your final paragraph. I hope that there is some kind of way he's with you and can see and hear and feel what you're saying.
Stephneverletyoupart on May 29th, 2013 12:00 am (UTC)
Thank you so much... I hope the same thing. :(
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2013 04:32 am (UTC)
What a wonderfully heartfelt story.

Your exploration of the depth of your sadness makes so much sense when it becomes clear that it wasn't only grief. Anger-- at ourselves, our parents, at the world and the circumstances it puts us in-- can be so deep-seated and hard to recognize or reconcile.

The complexity of why your cousins had such a different relationship with your grandfather makes sense, given that your parents' relationship was different too... but it's hard not to have regrets, isn't it, once you've discovered what that relationship could have been.
Stephneverletyoupart on May 29th, 2013 12:02 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for that comment and for reading. It feels like you really get what I was feeling when I wrote this (and whenever I even think about it.) and that's so helpful to me. <33
whipchickwhipchick on May 22nd, 2013 08:04 pm (UTC)
Grief is such a terrible thing. There's a wonderful line in Shakespeare's King John -

Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me

and I think that hits it so well.
Stephneverletyoupart on May 29th, 2013 12:02 am (UTC)
Absolutely. Thanks for reading (and commenting) <3
fourzoasfourzoas on May 22nd, 2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
You've articulated some really complex--and, I suspect, common--feelings about death and loved ones we perhaps didn't grow or get to love as much as we wanted to.
Stephneverletyoupart on May 29th, 2013 12:02 am (UTC)
Thank you so much.
Jenjennickels on May 22nd, 2013 11:08 pm (UTC)
I remember being at my grandmother's funeral in 1999 (I had just turned 23) and one by one my cousins got up and spoke about their amazing relationship with her and all the fun things they did. They were all laughing and crying and I sat there a little stunned because it hit me how little she did with me and my brothers. My dad and his brother had 11 years between them so my cousins are much older than me (I'm 36 and the oldest of them is in his 50s). The only thing I remember getting from her were lectures about running on the stairs and making too much noise. She never took us anywhere and refused to babysit for my parents at all.

And I felt angry that I was denied a normal grandparent relationship (my grandfathers died before I was born and my maternal grandmother was abusive to my mother so I only met her like 2 or 3 times before she died when I was 8).

Anyway, I didn't have all the grief but I definitely had a lot of anger and hurt and confusion over the whole thing. Your story was very powerful and really got me thinking of that day and the relationship I had with her.
Stephneverletyoupart on May 29th, 2013 12:04 am (UTC)
Sounds like you understand the complexities of your relationships being affected because of circumstances beyond your control. Sending you hugs and also thanks for reading and understanding... it means a lot.
MamaCheshirecheshire23 on May 23rd, 2013 12:13 am (UTC)
This makes so much sense to me. You grieve the idea of Grandfather as much as the individual human himself, and that in some ways makes things more difficult.
Stephneverletyoupart on May 29th, 2013 12:05 am (UTC)
Yes, exactly. And hearing that my cousins HAD that experience was even harder for me because it meant he was capable of it - just not with us. :(
Shann's LJ Idol Entriesshanns_ljidol on May 23rd, 2013 01:30 am (UTC)
This is beautiful and made me a little misty eyed.

And as an aside I love this journal style! Did you make it?
Stephneverletyoupart on May 29th, 2013 12:05 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you so much. I was bawling while I was writing it so... lol.

I didn't! A friend found it in a layout community for me, the info is in my userinfo... I think.
Stephneverletyoupart on May 29th, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
Hm, I guess it isn't. I can ask her if you want?
Shann's LJ Idol Entriesshanns_ljidol on May 29th, 2013 12:15 am (UTC)
Yes please! I love customizing my journal and finding new styles!