The last cake is coming. I have been thinking about this last group of cakes for a while. It is such a mix of emotions. It was fun to make a couple for my family- they played with the kids while I baked, there was a dishwasher to clean things up, and plenty of taste testers every step of the way.
What I did not anticipate feeling was this sadness that I find creeping into my gut. I was sharing this with a friend and the next thing that I knew, tears began to flood my eyes. It is almost a sense that when this last cake is baked, then my Grandpa is really gone. This was our last project together.
I know that I don’t talk about it very much and I think it is hard to explain because again, it is a mix of emotions. Taking care of my grandparents was one of the hardest things that I have ever done but it was an easy decision to make. Maybe I will never fully be able to calculate this time we have spent in Grand Rapids. In some ways, the move cost us our friends, our social circle and our lifestyle. In another breath these years in Grand Rapids have been a gift: we learned new ways of being ourselves, my children know extended family in ways that would not have been possible from afar, and we have friends and experiences we never would have known otherwise. I realized some years ago when we were trying to decide if we could continue to hack it here or if we needed to move on, that I wanted to stay for now. I recognized that if I could help my Grandpa reach his goal of staying in the home he built for as long as he wanted to be here, that it would be a major life accomplishment.
Shortly after he died, it finally dawned on me that the goal was destined to end with a death. Usually one gets to celebrate when they reach their goal but in this case, there was instead a collective sigh, some crying, and a funeral to arrange.
In some ways, my grandparents’ deaths were easier for us because we were there each day, watching his decline down to the last details. We said goodbye slowly over the years and even more slowly over the past year of living together. At the same time, I wonder if Ryan and I have actually mourned. I tend to try and take care of the emotional well being of my family members, and of course I always make sure that the children are okay. I tend to be a strong one, it is how I see myself and it is how I take care of others. I am a person with plans and goals and I take action, but I am also weary.
So I will make this last cake. I don’t know how I will feel or if I will feel a certain way but I do sense that this is part of a changing of our seasons, maybe not the very end of this chapter, but a shift all the same.