It is curious, how death can articulate a distance that life, in its fragile hope, can only intimate. For the living, there is tomorrow, next year, the expectation, however tenuously constructed, of continuum. & now there is only a stark rupture, an irrevocable goodbye. My grandmother is simply gone.
& from this distance, it is not the finality of the funeral that would compel me there, or saying goodbye to her corporeal form. Her absence is absolute, & no formality of parting would do anything to contradict that passing. Instead, it is the draw of those surrounding her now, those in whom there is still the opportunity for communion, my family, their hearts & their love & their enduring life. The death of a loved one reminds us of the basic irreversible fact that loved ones die, without exception. & from this distance, it is the longing for family’s presence that I feel keenly. Longing, because desire is drawn over distances we sometimes can’t traverse.
& how strange too to sweep up this singular instance in generalizations. Granny Frick, the 4’11” dynamo. Patient & purposive but with a kind of remove from immediacy that allowed her to watch things unfurl under her commentaries. Her ceramics, mutely painted, scattered about the house. The red hot candies stuck to white paper. How we’d wait for her to say “well, sheeeit” & feel perfectly at home only when she did. & her heart, so open & so full of love.
When I moved here, I remember sitting in my truck in the parking lot of some little restaurant in Homer, getting a phone call from home. It was my thirtieth birthday & my grandparents were with Mom & Dad. Everyone was concerned about me, up here in Alaska, wandering afar, looking for something that I had only found broken elsewhere. & then Granny got on the phone & said it must just be the Cherokee in me & that she expected I’d just search until I found it, matter of fact, simple as that. She always said she wanted to see this place. If she did, I know she’d be tickled pink by it & serenely appreciative of its beauty. I know too that she’d be so pleased to find me done with my searching. I think about her when I think about how anchored & rooted & in love I am with this place, how she seemed always to know that I’d find it here, my heart.
So Granny, wherever it is you wander now, I hope you’ll stop a little while & see the dogs, or the fireweed blooming through into fall, or the alpenglow over the range. I hope you’ll hear the Swainson’s thrush & white-crowned sparrow & feel in their melodies a kinship. I hope you’ll know however you can that up here, at least, at last, there’s a road that doesn’t open unto anything else but home. & whatever the torsions of time, we’ll share it with you & your memory as long as we both shall live.