When I first found out that I was pregnant, sitting in a Planned Parenthood examining room in early fall 2005, my whole body started vibrating and all I heard was a loud humming sound in my ears. It was like in the movies when the main character stops hearing what the person sitting across from them is saying, but they can see their mouth moving and forming words.
As the weeks and then months went by, I started feeling the changes in my body progress. A deeper, primal sense of understanding began to dawn on me. If I had to put it into words, it might sound something like: "Women throughout history have gone through these same changes, felt what you are feeling, and have been just as excited and scared as you are." I imagined women in Elizabethian robes, pregnant and round, wondering what their little ones would look like. I tried to imagine women in the time before we started wearing clothes and using fire to cook, fiercely protecting her swollen belly from predators.
My experience connected me to the line of women going back beyond any timeframe that I could even contemplate.
I imagined my mother, pregnant with me.
I imagined her mother.
And the mother before that and then, again, before that.
All of us connected through our bodies that produced the spirits and minds of those that would come after us. Early in the morning on July 8th, before the doctor decided to retrieve Zac through the road less traveled under my belly button, I suddenly understood how women could die in childbirth. My body was in pain, even with an epidural. I was afraid and tired. Zac couldn't descend into my birth canal. For all practical purposes, he was stuck, as was I. Before the practice of medicine, before Ob-Gyns, C-sections, and intensive care units, both he and I might have died that morning.
We didn't. We continue on.
The memory of Zac's birth and my part in the continuation of the generations is what I keep thinking about as I try to understand and grapple with the death of my Grandma.
My Dad's Mom, Freida, died early this morning. Although no one has told me what from exactly, I know that she refused to go to the hospital for pneumonia late last week. She slipped into a coma this weekend and passed away surrounded by most of her family. My Dad and Mom flew separately to be with my Dad's family today and Zac and I will be going on Wednesday for the funeral.
Every kid should be so lucky to have someone like my Grandma G. We talked once a week to her on the phone, even though as kids my sister and I never, ever had anything to say. She baked us our favorite cookies, breads, and chocolate during the holidays and marked every occasion with a card and a $5 or $10 bill. I saw her infrequently growing up - our family didn't have a lot of money and her health rapidly declined in my junior high and high school years. She lost some of her mobility, but I swear that woman never lost her fight. She would say that she wasn't too old to give us (usually my Dad) a good whippin' if we (or he) mouthed off to her. When you asked her how she was feeling, even in the nursing home she hated, she would answer: "Still kicking. It's better than the alternative." She could beat the pants off of a whole room full of seniors at Bingo, laughing while she told you the story and how lucky she was.
Last week I got a birthday card for Zac from Grandma G., written in my Uncle's handwriting. He had even included a $5 bill and as soon as I opened it, I started to cry. That she would be facing so much, yet still remember her "little man and her dolly" was too much for me.
I'm going to miss her and the little reminders that she loved us all so well.