I am back home (= with A, where I belong; where it’s rainy and cold at the end of May; where my hamster snores loudly; where I know, I have all the time in the world to be with the most wonderful man I know). I somehow survived the last week and a half and still have no idea, how exactly I managed. I am mentally exhausted, drained and need a vacation from my vacation. This being said, I am happy I did get the chance to go to Vienna. I am happy, that I surprised my brothers, I am happy I got to spend time with my grandpa. I am happy I got to spend time with my best friends and I am happy, that every goodbye from my family and friends, is only a temporary goodbye.
When you only have limited time, it flies by.
I am a very organized person, I planned out my ‘vacation’, day by day – far in advance, every hour was carefully planned through. I did this, to ensure I would have enough time to visit with everybody (and not leave anybody out). Most important, of course, my brother. I tried to spend every of Norm’s free minutes with him and his daughter, just because the time, when a little person is so little, is incredibly precious. I know, I had missed so many months already (7 to be exact), so for the time being, I practically didn’t leave her side, unless – of course – it was diaper changing time: the beauty of being an aunt, I can return my little niece anytime to my brother and his spouse and know, that they will take care of it. And I know everyone says this about their nieces and nephews (especially when they are so little), but she is just the most precious thing, I have ever seen. So full of life, so happy, so full of love and most of all, just incredibly wonderful (so yes, Norms, you did a good job!)
I also got to spend an entire day (from 10.30 a.m. – sorry again for being late… until it was almost midnight) with my best friend C, which, giving our circumstances/lifestyles/business, is a lot of time. We hung out, had coffee together, ate ice cream, chips, chocolate, drank some bubbly and just enjoyed the time we had. We talked about all the things we usually would email about and I realized again, that every girl needs a C. I don’t think my life would be half as entertaining without C by my side. I still believe, that one day, when we are old and grey and probably don’t remember each other’s names, we will be at the same place at the same time and just be. Since over the last 5 years I only saw C a handful of times and our time together, was always limited. So one day, when we both have all the time in the world (and don’t have to race through our lives anymore), that’s when we will use the last minutes, hours, days, months and years together and sit next to each other, talking about ‘all the old good times’.
Last but not least I spend some (wonderful and of course not enough) time with my (extended) family. I had a long talk with my grandpa, my aunt, my parents, my brothers. We talked about so many things, important and unimportant things, happy and sad things, craziness and calmness. I believe talking is the most important thing in the world, just like ‘giving someone time’. Time and Talk, I believe you could cure everything (interpersonal) with those two things. Time… Time is what we all need. I say this, because the day of my departure back to Oslo, I stood in front of my grandma’s grave and wished I could hug her, one last time, I wished I could talk to her, laugh with her, be with her, one last time. But that’s the thing with time, you only have limited time, and once it’s over, you need to talk about it.
As I stood, and planted a big flower with the most wonderful orange leaves (she loved colorful flowers) I had ever seen into the soil onto her grave, I talked to her. I took all the time in the world and I talked. About any and everything, just as I would have, if she was still alive. And then I understood, that love with death never dies, it only changes its form. And it made me happy, knowing that even with the limited time on earth we have, we can still talk with each other.
March 20th, 2012 is when it all began. I am not able to tell you the reason as to why I did it, but I started walking. Now in all honesty I can say, I am not a very sporty person, I am by no means athletic and I am not very fond of sore muscles or anything that would cause having them in the first place. I don’t walk for a hobby, I don’t walk to proof a point and definitely not to stay in shape, but I started to walk because that’s all I knew how to do.
Nearly two months later, I managed to walk over 460km (or, since A is not very fond of the metric system, nearly 286 miles, that’s almost 6 miles every day, although in reality I would walk 15 miles one day and the next day only a couple). I feel great about myself, I feel fitter and healthier, the soreness in my muscles is bearable and I almost feel happy, I feel content.
The reason I tell you this, is simple: I was heartbroken. I never thought it was possible to feel the way I did, it wasn’t quite like people say. When people talk about their broken heart, they emphasize, how all they wanted to do is stay in, hide in their bed, wait for the pain to leave. The difference is that I knew, the pain wouldn’t leave, it would still be there, tomorrow, in a week from now, in a month, in a year, in a decade, that’s what a broken heart does – it take its’ time to heal. I am in no way indicating, that my broken heart is mended, but it is getting better.
I lost my grandma not too long ago. I wasn’t there in her final moments on this earth as cancer got the better of her, I wasn’t able to take her pain, nor was I able to prevent her from the dark places she went to. Mid-December I attended the longest walk of my life, which is kind of ironic, since from the church, in which her final service was held, to the place, she will lastly lay in, it was only a two minute walk. But a broken heart can’t run.
The images of that very day haunt me. Ever so slowly do they creep up on me, play hide-and-seek with me. They sit next to me, when I watch TV, they hold my hand, when I read the newspaper. They greet me first thing in the morning and wish me a good night, every evening. My mind’s eye is the most reliable thing in my life these days, it never fails me, is always on time, never bothers to leave. I say this, because I tried to leave. Tried to bury the feelings, eat the emotions, tried to hide the pain, but what good is the best hiding place if no one comes and look for you?
It’s sadness in its’ purest form, almost delicate even, but more than that it’s the pondering, wondering feeling, that bothers me the most. Why her? Why now? What to do with all the empty promises she made? It’s like ordering a cake at your favorite bakery for your own birthday-party, you had this whole big event planned out. Marching bands, chocolate fountains, a huge reception, but no one shows up, because you forgot to send out the invitations.
So I walked and walked and walked. Every day, back and forth from A to Z, from north to south, from east to west. Like a hamster on his running-wheel, you just keep going, until one day, you are too exhausted to move any further. As far as I am concerned, I just started my journey, I started to walk for my own sake.
I always wondered about Forrest Gump. I mean, why run and run and being followed by so many people and not once say a word to anyone? When I was tired I slept, when I was hungry I ate. – As simple as that, that’s how we humans work. I haven’t found peace yet, I still find myself restless every now and then, anxious to keep moving. But it’s all a process, one that we all have to go through at one point or another.
I know that one day I will wake up and the pain I feel within my inner core will be hurting less, that’s at least what I am betting on. But until then, I will be walking, walking until the sun rises in the furthers east, walking until I can’t walk anymore, in memory of my beloved grandma, who in her last few months, weeks and days on this earth walked through hell and back, without having any strength in her legs and feet anymore. And since I can’t be with her anymore, I will do my best to honor her in the best way I can, and that is making her proud, by walking – and telling her story.
It’s been two very long months since the funeral.
Let me start off by saying that I do believe that my grandmother is at a better place now and that I am sure, that she feels painless and maybe even carefree. Maybe even happy. But then again maybe we just tell ourselves those little lies so we can cope better with the loss, who knows? I do miss her an awful lot and there is nothing in the world I’d rather do than talking to her. I wish I could pick up the phone, dial her number and hear her surprised voice, when she recognizes me. I wish I could ask her how she was doing and ask her if I could stop by for a coffee and a chat. And she would instantly say yes and tell me to come on over when ever I feel like it.
I wish I could do that right now, head to my grandmother’s that is. Only now she is not there anymore, now it’s my grandfather’s home. Don’t get me wrong, it has always been his home as well but somehow, even when we went to see him, we would always say ‘let’s stop by at Omi’s’. Now I can’t say that anymore, not without a feeling of emptiness anyways.
All the stories she told me over the years, all the funny little moments, all our shared moments come rushing back to me, every now and then and it makes me sad and vulnerable, but most of all empty. I wish she was still here with me, still talking to me, laughing with me, I wish I could feel her tight hugs and her soft kisses. But those little things are only memories now.
Like every person in pain I try to find something to blame. Something I can get angry about, something to destroy, something to make me feel better again. But the truth is, there is nothing to be angry about and nothing to blame. People die, either because they are old, they had an accident or they get sick. That is natural and everybody needs to learn how to deal with it.
Up to a few years ago cancer to me was another sickness humanity couldn’t cure. I couldn’t relate to it, it was something very distant, something that didn’t bother me. It was kind of like ‘someone else’s problem – let them deal with it’. Now I have my very own face of cancer, I have my grandmother. I still wish that there was something I could have done for my grandmother but the truth is, there was nothing. I know that, I just don’t want to believe it.
Now it is up to me to tell her story, the story of my grandmother, so her face will be remembered among all the souls who have and had to fight cancer. So maybe, one day we can find a cure, maybe one day we can help and make it better, maybe one day.
But for now, my most favorite story of my grandmother:
She was only 4 or 5 years old when her mom sent her to the convenience store around the corner to get a kilogram of coffee. So, my little grandmother walked in and ordered the coffee. The cashier-lady went into the other room to get the order, leaving my grandmother alone in the front store. My grandma waited patiently but right in front of her on the cashier counter, was a big pile of chocolate pieces on display and although my grandmother knew, she couldn’t afford to buy a piece, she still reached for one and quickly put it in her mouth before the cashier came back. After that my grandma received the coffee and put it in her bag, she paid for the coffee and was ready to leave, but before she left, the cashier looked her in her blue eyes and said, ‘I know that you took a piece. For now you are off the hook but don’t do that again.’ My grandma ran home as quickly as she could, never telling the story anyone.
But many years later, when she told me the story, she said, there was never a piece of chocolate that tasted that good.