This post was in the works last night, but my web browser kept crashing, so many times in fact, that I took it as a sign I should wait to post this.
Yesterday was the 18th anniversary of my Granny Clara’s death caused by lung cancer that metastasized into her liver and other organs, and each year I grieve (but have never truly let out my pain) during this month for the loss of the one family member who loved me without fail, without compunction, and her last words were a whisper of goodbye as I sobbed over the phone that I loved her.
After her death, I went numb, and watched everyone else around me crumble under the weight of her loss. I remember seeing drunken fights over her belongings and memories, horrible statements made to rend each other’s souls instead of healing them, and I had to shelve my own grief out of fear and to protect myself. My bio-donors made all kinds of grandiose claims: they could have saved her with herbs, homeopathic medicines, tinctures, and natural healing. Everyone was blaming everyone else, so my anger at the unfairness of losing my Granny became focused on my bio-donors claims, and the fact that they decided to move us so far away from her that I missed out on seeing her more than twice in a 5-6 year span.
I didn’t truly understand what had caused her death at the time, I didn’t know much about cancer except it was bad, and it was years in the making. She was a heavy smoker throughout her life, and if memory serves me, she was even smoking right up to her death, or very close to it. I grew up knowing that she smoked, but never fully grasped the seriousness of what she was doing, or how it would end up affecting her. During one of her visits to our home in Oregon, I remember her using cough syrup for a lingering cough, but I also remember her going outside to smoke just the same.
Knowing that someone you love so much threw themselves away after an addiction hurts so much. I feel guilty about being mad at her over the selfishness of smoking, the choice to keep smoking after being diagnosed with breast cancer that took one of her breasts, and yet she still smoked. Despite the rage I feel towards the cancer that ate away at her body, I try to remember the positive things about her, to keep her memory alive with me now.
She raised me during my earliest years, taught me how to garden and how butterfly bushes smelled, had me sleep in her bed during nights I would cry for her (even picking me up from my bio-donor’s house located at least 30 minutes away), and even though I was transplanted 3,000 miles away, she still called and wrote to me often, telling me about her garden, my cousins, her trips to the coast for seaweed to compost.
I had wrestled all day with this post, I wanted to create a compilation of everything I knew about her, and all the ways I have tried to carry her spirit with me through my life. But I have been utterly adrift with melancholy, sadness, and feeling heartsick. I ache to hear her voice again calling me “Precious” in her southern accent (she was born in Virginia), to feel her hug me again, to introduce her to my daughters and husband, to see her smile again.
For now I have lit a candle for her, spoke to my Lady of Nifhelhiem Hel about my desire to visit with my Granny Clara, and cried over losing her.
I made an offering to Hel of the screaming pain inside me thrashing to escape, my tears and sobs offered up freely for the first time in decades. Each tear felt like it scalded my skin, and melted away at the icy coating I had forged around this loss. I had locked it away within my heart, afraid to release it or face the tumorous growth it had become. My Lady has been stripping me of the decay within these past few days, and despite my feeble attempts to rescue my various gobs or bits from Her hands, She has been coldly removing them, and freeing me from their taint.
The Jotunbok by Raven Kaldera talks about Her ways, but I had not fully experienced them lately, and had thought She wasn’t interested in me after my debacle with the rose. I had set aside two roses in Her vase, but hadn’t tried contacting My Lady (I mostly try to avoid bothering Her, or the Spirits of the Dead out of respect). However She has been reaching across the void for me, and I only just now realized it.
I have thanked My Lady for watching over my Granny, and have been facing more shadows of myself as She guides my progress. I also feel a huge nudge to set up a larger shrine for My Lady as well, so my next post with most likely be about that.