I love the word, “poignant.” I still remember the time I first heard it. I was a freshman in high school in Mr. Arnold’s English class. He loved words, and poignant was one of them. I remember him repeating it several times. He loved the way it felt in his mouth and the way it sounded when it was released. He loved the multiple meanings.
And I fell in love with the word, too. I guess I am a word nerd that way. I love many, many different words. But I think that moment was the first time I ever considered really enjoying a word, and that’s what makes “poignant” special for me. That fragment of a moment is a savored memory. It remains, ironically, “poignant.”
If you are new to this word, or haven’t heard it in some time, the first definition is “profoundly moving” and “touching.” The second definition is “physically painful.” It is this word that so represents my “bitter~sweet” category. Something that can be both those definitions at the same time describes my feelings when I write in this category. And it describes my feelings today as I reflect on my grandmother’s passing.
My Grandma Shadowens passed away peacefully last night. She was surrounded by her children, many grandchildren, her husband, and other family members. She was very, very loved, and was ready to be released from a life that had become filled with many health concerns, and go to a place where she could finally be without pain and at peace.
I lived 8 hours away from my grandma when I was growing up and still today. Some of my memories of her include the orange slices she used to give me from the hutch in her dining room; the way she held my cheeks in both hands and planted big wet kisses on me when she first saw me; the many, many card games played at the dining room table; the chicken ‘n dumplins she made; and the cards and letters she wrote to my sisters and I, telling us over and over again how loved we were.
I thought her passing would be a relief after years of many health problems, and knowing that she was “ready.” I also thought it would be easier for me because I know with certainty that she will be welcomed by my Ka-Kate and they will be together in a joyful place. I thought I would feel at peace knowing she was surrounded by many loved ones.
I was right…and wrong.
Her death was poignant. It was the first AND the second meaning of the word.
Knowing she is really gone creates another small hole in my heart. Knowing what loss feels like so profoundly reminds me of my greatest loss and the pain that remains, always. Knowing that I won’t be able to wrap my arms around her and receive her tight, loving hugs creates an ache in my chest.
One of my “sweet” moments that followed Kate’s death was the thought that her being in heaven would make the loss of other family members a bit easier to bear. Knowing she would be there with them made it seem…lighter.
And it is.
And it isn’t.
It’s very poignant.
This is what life ~and death~ are for me now. The most joyful moments are accompanied by a twinge of sadness. The most painful experiences are somehow encapsulated with joy. And I cannot think of a lovelier word to describe it all.
Thank you, Grandma, for the way you loved me on this earth. And thank you for taking care of Kate until I can join you.