I’ve been sitting at my computer off and on all day hoping to get many things done, but I’ve come up short. I can’t quite focus on the tasks as my mind is drifting off. I’m aching inside, and that’s all I know how to do or be right now.
My grandmother passed away six days ago at the age of 85, and I’m sad. My husband and I just returned from her funeral yesterday and while it gave me closure, there’s a heaviness still weighing on my chest. Sometimes I feel it’s an ocean of tears that just need to pour out of me, but I know it’s more than that.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a very small number of people in my life pass away in my short 33 years of life, but I feel the rumble and stir as the circle of life demands that number to increase. And I’m scared.
We knew my grandmother was dying, so we had time to say goodbye. I spent two beautiful days in May with her since she lived a short plane ride away.
I slept on her couch snuggled in blankets that smelled like her. I used her shampoo and studied the way she had her things laid out just the way she liked. I did more listening than talking in order to take her in as much as I could, because I knew this was my final trip, and I wouldn’t get to feel her touch or smell her skin ever again. At least not in this life.
I learned about her family, and her life as a young girl. I learned about the glory of patience as I expressed to her my need for more. I gave her hugs, and told her I loved her every chance I got. And I cried at night when her house grew dark, and quiet, because I was in a moment that I didn’t want to end.
The last morning of my two day stay she asked me what I wanted for breakfast. I told her I was fine and could pick something up on the way to the airport. “Oh no,” she said. “I’m going to make you breakfast, honey. I’m going to make you a memory.” I swallowed back the tears and smiled. “Toast,” I said. “I’ll have toast.”
She made me toast with butter along with some strawberries that had been marinating in a sweet sugary glaze. I took a picture because I knew this memory was special, just for me to have. It broke my heart and made it whole all in the same moment. I snapped away and took a few pictures of her. She was happy to pose, and let me have that moment.
She gave me so many gifts those two days in May. She showed me how important forgiveness is, how to love unconditionally, how to create meaningful memories, how utterly beautiful life is, and how to say goodbye gracefully.
My grandma and I have been many places together; to the Grand Canyon, and to Hawaii, but I’ve never been anywhere more important and life changing than on my grandmother’s couch those two days in May.
I’m incredibly sad to know I’ll never see her here again. My belly aches and my heart hurts when I think of her. Maybe it’s just too fresh not to want to cry at every memory.
But I’ve been here before. I’ve grieved a grandmother before, and I know that pain never really goes completely away. And I’m fearful, because I know I’ll be here again, over and over as I grow older and my loved ones do too. It’s a startling realization when life hits us with reality. It hurts and puts things into perspective.
We don’t always get two days in May.
We don’t always get to say goodbye.
But I’m so grateful I did.