*This is a recount of my trip to California. If it seems like my writing is out of order or a mess it’s because that’s where my head is at right now. Please excuse that.
California is many things to me. It is where I and my siblings were born. It is where I called home for my first 6.5 years of life. It is where a lot of my moms family lives. It is also where my dad was murdered.
Our sole reason for coming out to California was to see my Grandma for the last time. She has recently fallen very ill and my wonderful sister insisted I come with her to say our final goodbyes.
Visiting California in my late 30s is very different than visiting any other time. I hadn’t been back in 14 years. For many reasons. There’s a lot of pain here. As we grow older we realize things. We draw deeper meaning and understanding of things that happened in life. We learn to process things differently. We re-learn past traumas and re-heal….. or try to.
I would be lying if I said coming back home didn’t scare me a bit. There was the fear of judgment, not being accepted, what triggers might I stumble upon?
While here we had a very short window in between visits to see our old apartment. It’s not too far from my Grandma’s house so we stopped by. I wanted to take pictures of it, get out of the car and walk and stand in front of it. This is where my dad was attacked and taken from us.
It was overwhelming to say the least. Memories flooded my mind. I remember the layout of the apartment very well. This is where I learned to roller skate and ride a bike. This is where I had my first friends. A tiny piece of my heart is here buried beneath where the huge palm tree used to be. Pain runs deep here…. in this very spot on Earth.
We also got a few moments at the beach. We dipped our toes in. It had been 14 years, my old friend. Again, the memories flooded my mind. Good memories. Friends, Sandy butts, homemade bologna sandwiches, chips, sunburns, friends and mom; hating every second of it because SAND 🤣. She was a trooper, though. Packing up all the supplies to get 4 small kids to the beach. As a mom, I can see why it was not a fun filled event for her. Ha ha ha!
The one person, besides my mom, who has been there through all the memories is my sister, Lynnea. We drove around remembering things. Crying. Living. Creating new memories.
One thing life doesn’t prepare you for is saying goodbye to someone before they’re actually gone. It’s a real mind f*ck! I’ll tell you that right now. You can’t quite grasp it. I have been through death many times, starting at a young age with my father. Nothing prepares you for it. Nothing. Having to watch someone you love forget who people are, not be able to lift themselves out of a chair, have to utilize a wheel chair etc. it’s hard and it’s heartbreaking. Watching your parent watch their parent die is something…. I don’t want to say special but it’s like watching life and death all in one setting. It’s really incomprehensible unless you’ve seen it yourself. It’s sad. It’s heartbreaking and it’s all unfolding right before your eyes and nothing you do can stop it from happening.
Grandma is home on hospice and before we left, my incredibly smart sister, who is a nurse, helped get grandma all set up at home. Watching her, listening to her speak on all these medical things just made me extremely proud. That’s MY sister, she’s so smart, kind and caring. She taught me how to help Grandma up out of bed. She organized her medication. She talked it all over with my Aunt who will be the primary caretaker for Grandma until she passes. It was all very overwhelming for everyone and Lynnea brought a sense of peace and understanding that was needed for us all.
I stole a few moments with my Grandma while I was there. I helped her cut her meal up at the hospital. She remembered who I was and that was everything. For my last goodbye she told me there was light all around me and then touched my nose with her finger. I gave her a big hug, twice, and then told her she better get some rest. Remembering it makes me cry all over again.
Leaving was very hard. We wanted to stay and help. We didn’t want to leave Auntie with all the work and hard times. It’s extremely hard living away from people but it’s even harder for things like this. Lots of tears. Lots of thoughts. So many things.
Life is too short. Is the One thing I am realizing. Life is too short to hold grudges. It’s also too short to live away from family. You miss so much. 😔 All we have is now.