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On grief, motherhood, and knitting


My 95 year old grandfather passed away over the weekend. I can’t say it was unexpected – his quality of life deteriorated significantly this last year or so, but these last weeks it all became much worse and much harder on him. His mind was sharp, but his body was starting to give out on him. Which, of course, bodies do when they’ve been on this earth for 95 years. Tuesday he told my uncle he was “done”, and by Saturday morning my dad was rushing in to spend time with him in his last moments. I’m told he hadn’t moved from the couch in several days and kept his eyes closed and was not engaging in conversation.

I’ve cried a fair bit, I admit. Despite knowing it was coming, and being “okay” with it (meaning that it was for the best that his suffering and pain ended), it’s still hard to not cry when I think of him. We have a photo ornament of my grandfather holding the baby when he was 2 weeks old. We’ve been working with the kiddo to point to me when we say “mama” and to the husband for “dada” and to himself for “Declan.” He never points to himself. Except yesterday, he pointed to the ornament of grandpa holding him and did it. And I about lost it.

My natural urge, when it comes to grief, is to bake and craft. I seek out those things that comfort me. Maybe there’s some symbolism there in the fact that life is varied and full of change and, generally, baking means the same results with the same recipe (and, similarly, the same knit stitch will produce the same stitch result). There’s a bit of meditation in the kitchen or behind the needles. It’s where I go when I need to think. To take some “me” time and reset.

But there’s no time to grieve when you have a one year old under foot. They neither know or understand what is going on outside of their little bubble. They don’t care that mommy needs to be in the kitchen alone to bake and cry. Or to sit in a corner with some yarn and knit and think. Which makes this whole grief thing impossible. How do I take time to grieve when I’m catering to a toddler? How do I take care of myself and my own needs?

I’m sneaking in knitting every chance I can get. 5 stitches here, 10 minutes there… whatever I can squeeze in to be that comfort I need right now. It’s not ideal, of course, but it kind of works.

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