The Tragic Optimist


We got back from visiting my family on Wednesday.  I keep wanting to write that the trip was wonderful, but that’s not the right word.  So I’ll say it was a good trip.  Because it was good.

Grandma’s funeral was on Tuesday, I managed to get through my two readings without completely breaking down.  I think it helped that I was holding Zoe.  After I sat down, and the pastor started her sermon, Zoe snuggled into my lap and fell asleep – she doesn’t sleep well on trips, and managed to get a cold, too – and then she started snoring.  Loudly.  I heard snickers behind me from my brother and my grandma’s niece, and I saw Chris and my dad both trying to hold in their laughter.  I almost lost it a couple of times just thinking about Zoe snoring away loudly in this somber church.  Grandma would have been in one of her giggle fits.  Behind me, my brother coughed a couple of times to try to cover his laughs.  After the sermon, my brother got up to talk about some of his memories and his laughter gave way to tears.  He got through a couple of lines before getting too choked up to continue.  I don’t know when I last saw my brother in tears, I’m sure it’s been nearly two decades and I felt so helpless willing him to go on.  His wife ran up to him at the front of the church, hugged him, took him by the hand and said, “come on, we’ll do this together” (this still brings tears to my eyes to remember).  She went up to the lectern, read from his notes for a few lines while he recovered, and then let him finish his stories, all the while holding his hand.  I was hit with so many emotions: the grief, the laughter, the love, the gratitude for having such a wonderful family.  The whole visit was a lot like that, though less concentrated.  We laughed a lot, told stories, cried a bit, held each other, and it was good.



  1. CJ

    What a touching service that must have been. Sounds like you have a wonderful family.

  2. It sounds like the perfect tribute to your grandmother. I know she loved it. Even the snoring.

  3. Heather

    What you’ve written here is a wonderful tribute to your grandma. I’m so glad that I got to meet her, even if only briefly. I hope your visit with your brother this summer is filled with good family memories!

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