I type to you from my seat on the plane, my fourth time in one of these super comfy things in the last two weeks. A couple days ago, I flew back to Minnesota for my grandpa’s funeral (catch up here). It’s not that I despise going back to Minnesota - quite the opposite, actually. I love it and would spend twice as much time there if I could. It’s just that the circumstances under which I’ve been going recently aren’t the best.
My grandpa’s funeral took place yesterday at his local church. During my grandpa’s last couple days with us, the pastor at his church came to visit him and almost knocked all of us over when he looked my grandparents in the eyes and thanked them - he said they have been pillars of this church. The few times I’d attended a service with them, I was not surprised by the amount of friends - I might even say family - they’ve collected within their church community. My grandparents are amazing people, and all these friends/family will without an ounce of hesitation say the exact same thing. So, my family knew this was the right place for the funeral. Having only been to one funeral before, and being only 10 years old at the time, I didn’t know what to expect (seems like that’s a major theme throughout this experience, huh?).
As the family of the person everyone gathered to celebrate and remember, my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and I stood at the front of the church with my grandma while all the guests - all those friends that seem close enough to be family, just like us - greeted us and gave their most genuine condolences. After about ten minutes of this, tears collected in pools just behind my eyes, ready to overflow, as I noticed the line wrapping all around the inside of the church and then out the door. All. These. People. Here for my grandpa. He was an amazing man, to say the least, and I’ve known this my entire life. But, my goodness. All of these people loved him so dearly, too. I couldn’t and still can’t comprehend the amount of love I felt radiating throughout the church. My knees buckled as the tears dripped out. I tried to stop them and cover it up, but dammit, this is my grandpa’s funeral. Who am I trying to kid. I’m kind of a mess right now and if that’s any indication of how much I loved him, then let the mess be messier.
My dad and brother both gave speeches dedicated to Grandpa, and again, I was floored. That man - Wayne Hansen - was and is so so so immensely and unconditionally loved. And he didn’t hesitate to show us that love, too.
If it’s not clear already, the past few months have knocked me over quite aggressively. Graduating and starting a new job have been fun and exciting, but stepping into adulthood is freakin’ scary. On top of that, I’ve been wrestling with a lot of internal questions about who I am, what I want to do, what I believe, how I want to feel, how I want to live, who I want to be with, my next five to ten years of life, and the list goes on. I’m learning, growing, and handling it (barely, at times). I’m crying quite a bit, too, but that’s actually helping. I’m reading, writing, walking, and spending time with myself in my own thoughts free of shame and judgment and “should’s”. I’m taking life day by day. In just one day last week, I filled around 15 pages in my journal with thoughts from the day and all that’s going on in my life. My hand wasn’t even tired, if you’re wondering.
All that I’m learning about myself is for me right now, and for the blog and therefore the entire world to see at a later time, maybe. But all that I’ve learned in just these two short weeks, I will gladly share here. It’s pretty simple.
Family. For nothing else but the unconditional love of family will carry us all through this experience. For nothing else would I have flown out of state twice in two weeks. For nothing else would Grandpa have wanted us to carry on in life, even without his presence.
I realize that I am so beyond blessed to have such a loving family. I may never be able to express a sufficient amount of gratitude to match the love my family shares. It’s everything that matters. It’s the glue that pieces us back together. It’s the most wholehearted love I’ve ever experienced.
On a less serious note, here are some other thoughts lately:
1. My parents’ home feels like home, even though Minnesota doesn’t. Strange, I know, but I just love their house - the way the sunlight brightens the living room each morning while I make coffee, the frogs and crickets that sing (sometimes really annoyingly) at night out by the pond, the closeness of family, and the little white mutt that’s been a part of it all for thirteen years, and so much more. I love coming home to my parents, my family, and that house.
2. I cannot keep up with my family when alcohol is involved. I have a glass or two of wine and that is my limit, but everyone else seems to be able to enjoy twice that. It’s not an issue - I’m glad I know my limit, but sometimes I just wish I could have one more glass without… well, you know the feeling.
3. I think I’ve developed some minor flight anxiety. Takeoff and landing used to bring me such joy and excitement, and the in-between used to be my time to gaze out the window at the clouds, just thinking and admiring the fact that I’M FLYING. Now, though, takeoff and landing freak. me. out. and the in-between is now my time to focus on deep breaths and to try not to scream when we hit a little turbulence.
4. If something in my life has been missing during the last couple of months (which I’m sure it’s been more than just one thing), it’s writing. It slipped out of my hands when life got a little crazy back in March, and I haven’t been able to pick it back up or to recognize that I need to pick it back up until now. When I had a little emotional breakdown last week (which actually wasn’t super little because I sat on the couch for an hour wrapped up in a blanket just sobbing, but it’s okay, I’m okay), nothing else felt right except for writing. I grabbed my journal, hugged it - not kidding - whipped it open, and wrote for about an hour straight. Almost everyday since then, I’ve written and felt much, much better. It’s one form of therapy for me.
You have made it all the way through?! Gosh. Go you. Thank you for giving me whatever amount of time it took for you to read all of that. I appreciate you! I’ll be back on here soon with another recipe and, as always, more thoughts.