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February 15, 2006

I am quite the pool of emotion today — so much has happened, yet after re-reading my last post, I see that I feel exactly the same way I did a week ago, that whole melancholy thing that has washed over me lately. So much to say, so little desire to do anything but catch up on all the shows waiting patiently for me on the TiVo.

This weekend was…interesting. I experienced a lot of firsts. We left Denver at 1:30 Friday morning as the snow came down on the city. Tired and cranky, all I wanted to do was sleep, but as we spent 45 minutes having the plane de-iced, sleep didn’t bother to pay me a visit. We arrived in Georgia and my grandpa picked us up at the airport. To further prove that I have the coolest granddad in the world, we climb into his van and when he starts the car, Kanye West’s “Golddigger” is blaring on the stereo.

Once we had arrived, all I wanted was a nap. Unfortunately, with a funeral just over 24 hours away, there were things that had to be done. First up, a quick trip to South Carolina to visit the mortician and bring him a pair of earrings to put on Grandmommy. My first trip to South Carolina; my first viewing of a dead body up close and personal. It didn’t help that my mom grabbed my hand and pulled me right up there to get a good look. And that was when I lost it. The first time, anyway. She looked just as I remembered her, and the memory of the first time I met her came flooding back. It was my 11th birthday, and we had dinner at her house. She made a cake and everything. We headed back to Georgia and stopped by her house to visit with relatives.

Which is when I lost it the second time. Being in that house again was so surreal. It was exactly the way that it was the last time that I was there. Which is when I realized that the last time I was there, I was introducing my husband to Grandmommy for the first time. It killed me, sitting there thinking of all I’d lost in the two and a half years since I had sat on that couch last, and it upset me to be there. After that, we were finally able to rest before the wake that night.

The funeral was nice, nothing depressing like I expected. True to form, it was a real Southern Baptist revival, a celebration of life, gospel choir included. We had the whole funeral procession and everything. My first actual ride in a limo (the operative word, “actual” is another story for another day), was that day, and obviously it wasn’t glamorous in the least, but it was kind of cool being in a funeral procession and watching everyone pull over and honk their horns out of respect for you. My mom was especially pleased at the fact that it rained all day; she felt that it was quite poetic. Her obituary was nice as well, even though it bothered me that they mis-printed the number of great-grands…there are 9 of us.

Over the course of the weekend, I consumed about four entire chickens and half a cow with the amount of fried chicken and ribs we were fed. Ribs for lunch on Friday. Fried chicken for dinner after the wake. Fried chicken for lunch after the funeral. Ribs for dinner Saturday night. Fried chicken for Sunday lunch. I’m surprised I haven’t sprouted feathers or started mooing yet. I ate enough soul food this weekend to last me a lifetime. And believe me, it was good…collard greens, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, potato salad, crab stuffing (which was yummy and I hate stuffing), macaroni and cheese, green beans, ribs, apple pie…all de-lish. I even had something I’d never heard of — boiled peanuts. Pretty tasty, I must say.

During the trip, I met a slew of relatives that I had never met before, or even knew I had. My head is still spinning from trying to put the connections together. My mom kept telling me about remembering playing in the yard with my great and great-great uncles growing up, which confused me even more. I’ll keep it simple and say that thanks to a lot of half siblings and generation gaps and re-marriages, all of the pieces of the family history are coming together. What was most interesting to me is how it wasn’t like that — it was simply, “this is my brother,” so it took me a while to make the connections. How anyone expects to ever keep a family tree is beyond me. And apparently, I look a lot more like my grandma than I ever thought, since a number of people picked up on the resemblance and thought that I was my mom.

Family resemblance was another trippy thing for me. My aunt, who is my mom’s half sister, are spitting images of each other, even though neither of them look like their dad. I guess that isn’t so weird, but my 2nd cousin, my mom’s uncle’s daughter, looked exactly like my sister. Not only that, but she had all of the same quirky mannerisms my sister has too. That was completely bizzare and my mom and I both were a little weirded out by that. It made us both think about how much of ourselves are a product of our relatives — the whole nature/nurture thing, once again.

The whole thing was quite a culture shock for me, as it always seems to be when I go down there. I think that something I tend to take for granted is the fact that my family is rooted from the black communities in the South. I learned that my great-grandpa (mom’s maternal grandfather) was a prominent business owner in the 60’s, and that is a huge deal down there. In my life, I never grew up being aware of racial barriers and such, and for that, I’m grateful. I read one of the county papers while I was there, and simply glancing at the headlines made me realize how much of an issue race still is in some parts of the country (and when I say real issue, I mean, it’s really there, not the “let’s pretend it’s there to cause trouble” like I am used to seeing out West). In fact, the day before our arrival, my grandpa and his brother went searching for their dad’s grave site in hopes that they could bury Grandmommy next to him, and they told me how there are still a few cemeteries in town that have sections marked “slave burial.” I found that quite interesting.

I think that part of the grieving process is that you subconsciously reflect on things in life that you’ve lost. All weekend, there were two things that were on my mind aside from the funeral: the loss of my husband, and the loss of my relationship (however you choose to define it–I still haven’t quite labeled it yet) with Kevin.

I think that reflecting back on my marriage was partly due to the fact that what would have been our 5th anniversary is this Friday, and I keep thinking about how when we got engaged, I told him how I always wanted to go to Italy. We couldn’t afford a fancy honeymoon, so he promised me that he would take me to Italy for our 5th anniversary. Plus, it didn’t help that both of my great uncles’ wives asked me how my husband was (they met him on that trip too), and I just looked at them both and said, “we’re not married anymore.” I guess they hadn’t gotten the memo.

I don’t even want to get into the never-ending thoughts of Kevin, and thinking about how he has always been there for me through my darkest days, and all I wanted all weekend was the comfort of his voice and I couldn’t have it. I have to admit that he’s on my mind on a daily basis, and I keep silently hoping that someday, we will speak again, even though I know it will never happen.


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