Trips to the 'Peg sure are different these days. As much as my MIL sometimes drove me batty I still loved that she loved our children and wanted nothing more than to spend special time with them. It gave us time to do stuff together that we do not get the chance to do when we are at home because we have to pay out our ears for it. Plus the kids valued that time together with her, them. I always thought it was them but it turns out now that she is gone it was her.
It is NOT that Kevin's dad is not a great G-pa but he is less into this role than I initially thought, he is more tentative. He is, and has verbally admitted this, prone to disliking the kids, especially Marisa, when they are loud and uncontrollable. He went so far as to be embarrassed at the meal we had out yesterday evening. It frustrates me in some ways. It frustrated me last year when we visited not long after Barb died. I thought it was just new and raw and painful but I am reminded again that G-pa is different. That is okay and even good but it is hard to know that the whole (both of them) were great together and it feels so different with just one of them.
Kevin and I went to the grave marker today for Barb. Matthew did not want to go. I cannot blame him. I went for Kevin. He has been twice already on this trip. It is a lovely spot near a pond with geese and rolling grass. It was a painfully blue sky with large fluffy white clouds sweeping across the plains and the requisite skitters that the 'Peg is known for. Afterwards, Kevin said 'I do not believe that visiting a marker feels good. I feel like she is all around us all the time.' I agree.
Marisa came with us because she is too young to say no plus she shouted 'ME ME ME' when we said we were going. We got out of the car and Kevin showed me the grave marker. Marisa wiggled down and ever so gently reached down and patted the marker. Do you wonder if kids just know?
Last night, on the way home from Kevin's Oma's house, I noticed Matthew making an oddly sour face in the car as he gazed out the window to his left. He shot a look at me sideways and whimpered "it's the hospital." Sure enough, it was Grace Hospital. This is where we spent two weeks last May in the ICU with Barb. A Barb that I like to forget and I am sad that it is Matthew's last and likely most lasting memory of his grandmother. A Barb with no hair, so thin she was hard to recognize, who could hardly speak over a whisper most off the time. She alternated between that lively sparkle in her eyes that was always there and grave pain that seemed to come deep from within. She could not eat and was too hot and cold alternately. It was both hard to see and the frank reality of someone in the final stages of cancer.
I did not even notice the hospital but Matthew did. He choked up and said "I do not like it..." and his voice trailed off. I held his hand very tightly and I told him quietly I know, I know and urged the car past the building faster.
If you have never seen a person in the final stages of (breast) cancer, try not to. It is a painful and life altering and if you ask me, traumatic.
I hope that time will heal all of our wounds by degrees. Cancer and Death changes everything for everyone, not just the person who left the earth.
At home a few weeks back, Matthew happily told me that he was glad that Grandma looks after him and that he loves her. I agree with Kevin... she will always be all around us.