My Grandma has always been a big part of my life. Time with her was the source of most of my fondest childhood memories from Christmases, to swimming in her neighbours’ pool, to greasing our bodies with baby oil and tanning together at the beach (because it was the 80s and that wouldn’t have been considered child abuse yet). As an adult, we developed an “adult” relationship with frequent visits and dinners out. I’ve always felt so lucky to have had the privilege of having an adult relationship with my Grandma. It allowed me to really get to know who she was (a very sassy lady) and for me to hear about parts of her life and parts of history that many people would never get to hear about first hand.
When I found out I was pregnant the first time, one of the first people I told was my Grandma. She was 93 years old at the time. I was so happy to be able to share this with her. We have a small family and all of my cousins (all of whom are very close to me in age) have had children. Their children have relationships with Great-Grandma. Great-Grandma has knitted them blankets and sweaters and mittens. Great-Grandma sends pictures of them as her Christmas card. Great-Grandma has their artwork on her fridge. I wanted so desperately to be a part of this joy.
When I told her I was pregnant, she started to knit. When I lost the baby, she stopped. I may have mentioned this in a previous blog, but she even “announced that there was another Great-Grandkid on the way in her retirement home newsletter. The next two pregnancies I didn’t tell her about personally but my aunt let her know when I lost them.
My Grandma had her own struggles with infertility. I don’t know the whole story because “we didn’t talk about these things”. But I know through piecing stories together that there was “something in there the size of an orange” and that my Grandma adopted my father and my aunt. Even though we’re not technically related by “blood”, people would always comment about how much we looked the same. We had the same eyes and the smile (and some of the same sass). We also have the same initials. We had a special little bond over these things.
When I told her our plans to adopt, she was excited. She was completely shocked by how much the process had changed and by how long we will likely have to wait. Her experience was very quick and very different.
On Thursday, my Grandma passed away.
It took too long. She will never meet my child (if I’m lucky enough to ever have one). She will never finish that knitting. My child will never be on her Christmas card and their art will never be hung with pride on her fridge.
I feel like I failed. I feel like I missed out. I feel more alone than ever. I wanted her to know that everything turned out ok.
Her funeral is today and I’m not there. There are a few reasons for that and it was a huge struggle to come to that decision. When her health started to go a few weeks ago, I started to panic. Not for her. I knew she was ok; I knew she’d had an amazing and full life. I knew she was 95 years old. I was panicking about how I would deal with it.
One factor is my father. My father has been out of my life (and the lives of my Aunt, Uncle and cousins) for several years for a reason that I’ll save for another blog. My father has not met my husband, and never will. The idea of having this “reunion” at a funeral was too much for me.
Adding to this panic was the fact that my brother and his pregnant wife would be there. Pregnancy at a funeral always provides people with comfort. It’s the perfect symbol of the cycle of life. To me right now it represents the exact opposite. It compounds my grief rather than bringing me relief.
Everyone else in my family would be there with their children and babies. For me to bring my own grief to that situation wouldn’t have been healthy for me, wouldn’t have been respectful to anyone else and would have made the situation worse.
I sat this one out. I sincerely hope they understand. I’d like to think my Grandma would have.
I feel selfish for making the passing of my Grandma, who I loved and adored, about infertility. Why is EVERYTHING about infertility?
I’m sad, so said, and I don’t think that the people close to me really understand why.
Lee-Anne is a 37 year old teacher who got married in May 2012. She writes candidly about the challenges she and her husband have faced in starting a family on her blog .