July 26, 2017


It's been too long since I've posted here and I've missed it terribly. There is, however, a reason. This post is difficult for me to write. I've had to stop and re-start several times but I've always thought it was important to share my feelings, especially here. I feel that this space is welcoming to all expressions of emotion. I also feel that when I experience something in life, I like to share it to maybe help someone else with their experiences. A shared experience is always better than a singular one. There's no easy way to say it. My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago. The night before last, around 9 pm, we lost her.

I think my earliest memory of my grandmother, who I call Nannie, is watching the TV show 'Ed' with her in her big bed. She would cross-stitch during the show while all the dialogue went over my head. Or maybe it's our little nightly ritual that I remember first. She used to spray a little dot of whipped cream on my finger every night before bed. Then there was that time I had to go to the bathroom so badly I slammed the door behind me and locked it I suppose. When I was done I couldn't unlock the door so I screamed hysterically for my Nannie, who was laughing the entire time my grandfather was taking the door off its hinges to free me. (I then developed an intense fear of locked bathroom doors)

I freely recall playing with my Barbie play sets on her living room floor, and being forbidden to touch the elaborate miniature Christmas village she set up every year, and the disconnected house phones she kept in an old hatbox under her bed for my cousins and me to play with. I cannot remember a time when my Nannie wasn't a present and an active force in my life. She always smelled like gum and her hugs were soft. She never missed an episode of 'Days of our Lives' (I mean ever) and once gave me one of her necklaces after she noticed me admiring it. She baked the best Christmas cookies in the entire world and bought a house specifically with a corner pantry because she knew I have the habit of closing the door when I walk by.

My grandmother has always been an example of how to be strong, resilient, and loving. She taught me how to work for what I want, to be grateful for what I have, and to appreciate everything and everyone around me. She taught me how to be humble about my success, and to appreciate the unique strengths of those around me. She taught me how simply to be kind. She and my grandfather are the standard by which I measure all relationships, their love overcoming all the (many) obstacles in their path. She was the leader of our family, the backbone that brought us all together. She was a calming presence in my life, an island in my mind that made me focus and work harder any time I felt like giving up. I can feel the strength she had in life flowing through my veins, and it brings me to my feet on the days I feel I can't get off the floor. There have been a lot of those lately.

I don't want to remember my Nannie the way she was in her final days. The disease stole everything from her. She wasn't the Nannie I knew. Too weak to even roll over on her own, she wanted her whole family around her for her final hours. To her last breath, she was worried about her children and her partner of 50+ years and us, her grandchildren. She wanted to always be there for all of us, and this disease robbed her of her chance. It's hard not to think about all the things she won't be present for. I will be the first person in the family to graduate college, and she won't be there to see it. She won't dance at my wedding or hold any great-grandchildren I may produce. Our first Christmas without her is bound to be a little less bright. This thinking is destructive, however, and only makes the constant pressing on my heart squeeze harder, like a vise grip of overwhelming sadness.

Truthfully, it's hard not to be angry at her passing, but anger is a misplaced emotion. I'm simply devastated at the loss of a pillar of my upbringing, someone I consider to have played a pretty major part in the founding of my personality and values. Not to mention how much I loved her. I am honored to have not only known her, but to be born into her love and her family. Today would have been her birthday and I can't help but think that if I had one more moment with her, I think I would simply say thank you.

Thank you and I love you.


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