Well, we survived the six hour (each way) drive to visit my family for my grandmother's memorial with a toddler. Our secret? Sticking one of us in the back with the toddler so she wouldn't scream the whole way, and a couple of Terry Pratchett audiobooks so we adults wouldn't feel like screaming the entire way. We didn't do that last time we headed south and E. ended up screaming for the last two hours on our trip to Seattle (her way of saying Happy Thanksgiving, perhaps?).
It was a strange visit. Visits to Portland are typically filled with visits to Powell's; a wander through Saturday market to admire all the breakable pretty things; a journey to my favourite tea shop, the Tao of Tea; a trip to one of the McMenamin's movie theaters if they have anything good playing; spending time with family and friends that we don't see very often; and usually a pilgrimage to Mill End (as much as I love Fabricana, Mill End was where I first started fabric shopping on my own and holds a special place in my heart). Next Christmas we plan to take E. to the Oregon Zoo. J. and I tend to go for walks in downtown or around Hawthorne and play Hipster Bingo (yes, it's probably rude, but there are so many people with spectacular beards and glasses).
This journey was different. Oh, we made it to Bob's Red Mill and Dave's Killer Bread, since my parents live nearby, and I stocked up on a few alternative flours (more on that later, once the batter for the injera finishes fermenting), but most of the time wasn't about having fun playing tourist in the city where I grew up. My youngest brother was off at university most of the two weekdays we were there, though he was around on the weekend days; my oldest younger brother was busy working and we only saw him briefly a couple of times; and my middle younger brother was only able to come for the memorial service and had to run back up to Seattle for work before the reception had ended.
J. and I usually go to my grandparents' house for dinner one of the nights we're visiting. Last time we brought a tiny four-month-old E. over to their house. This time, my grandfather came over several times, and it was strange to see him without my grandmother, because they are always together. Just not anymore.
As it became more real to me, I started to cry more. I cried through most of the service. I kept crying at the reception because it felt like all I had to do was turn around and she would be there, except she wasn't. I muddled my way through an anxiety attack that night, one that kept me up well past midnight, and then stumbled through another one at my parents' church the next morning.
I was pulled together enough to drive part of the way home and not succumb to anxiety about driving, and I feel on a slightly more even keel now that I'm a bit removed, but as always, it's taking a few days to settle back into routine here at home. Everything seems a bit off, and I think most of that is related to the grieving process, however long it's going to take. I'm back to feeling a bit sad, a bit flat, and unsure what to do about that.
While we aren't exactly horrendously busy, life does feel strangely chaotic. I suppose it will sort itself out, but in the meantime, I'm finding ways to cope with the weirdness.