Right now I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my flight. I’m glad I just made it to the gate, really, because this morning, it wasn’t clear exactly what flight I’d be waiting for. You see, today was a tough day… it should have only been an exciting one as this is the day that I booked a one-way ticket to Australia! Realistically, it was probably going to be a bit of a rough day regardless, what with the nervous stomach and slight rise in anxiety that always comes with new encounters like this. But it was made especially tough with some very sad news.
My grandmaman (grandmother) passed away last night. It wasn’t entirely a shock because she was 99 after all. But, it still shook me. I had gotten used to the idea that she would probably live forever! Having lived independently until the age of 95, traveled all over the world well into her 80s, she was the strongest woman I knew. She even bounced back after hip surgery in her mid-90s – although, never quite the same.
So, I found myself struggling this morning: do I fly back across Canada for the funeral or do I continue on as planned? Do I play the dutiful granddaughter/daughter or do I choose the option that feels selfish? Neither feeling terribly wonderful at that moment.
I imagine this is one of the real downsides to traveling. How do you choose which life events you alter your plans for? And, how do you reconcile missing out on others?
For me, this time, to just go about my plans felt a little bit like I was dismissing that anything happened; that I wouldn’t be acknowledging the role she played in my life. And, to hear everyone’s stories, to be a part of remembering her as a family and, most significant, to be there for my mother felt very important too.
But, what would going back really provide? Only I know what she meant to me and only I can remember her as I do. The reality is the grieving process will remain unchanged for me whether I’m there for her funeral or not.
And so, I’m sitting here waiting. Not for a flight back home but one to a place I’ve never been! She loved traveling and I am holding on to the idea that she’d want me to go. However, I am packing a few extra things than planned for this trip… a few memories of my most loving grandmaman. Precious memories that will weigh heavily on me at first, but I imagine will lighten as the days go by.