I think all the time how much I miss writing. I think of all the things I could write about and start in my head, and then I get distracted with life and forget to write. But not tonight. Tonight I’m writing.
I’ve always had a small family. Most of my childhood it was just me and my mom. The only other constant in my life was my grandmother.
My grandmother was my world. If you asked me as a kid, I would have told you that woman hung the moon. There were times when life got hard and my mom and I lived with her. As I got older, she moved to Georgia and then Arizona and every summer I would fly out to her and spend months with her. The older I got, the less I wanted to be away from my friends and my summers with my grandma became shorter. But I called her almost daily.
I was 18 and living in an apartment with my best friend the first summer I didn’t spend with my grandmother. One night, after far to many drinks, I got emotional and just started walking towards the beach (I only lived a block away from it). It was really late, maybe 2 or 3am and I really just wanted to talk to her. Knowing she was three hours behind in time, I called her up crying hysterically. I sat on the beach that night crying my eyes out while my grandmother calmly talked to me. She knew I had been drinking and made sure I wasn’t driving and was close to home. She talked to me for at least half an hour before I calmed down enough to go home. She was my best friend, my rock, my whole world. She knew me better than anyone else ever had.
In mid 2003, we got the news that she had a pretty rare cancer. She tried a round of chemo and decided she didn’t want to spend the little time she had left feeling terrible. She chose to live out the rest of her days with hospice and moved in with my uncle in California. In August 2003, the family flew me out to see her for the last time. It was the shortest trip I ever took to see her. I think it was only a week, but she put every ounce of energy she had into that week. We drove out to the mountains to see the sequoias. We had a few dinners out at restaurants close to her home. I met her nurses who would take care of her until she no longer needed them. I watched her drift off to sleep under the morphine that kept her pain at bay. In October, my mom went to visit her and her mind was pretty gone. On December 5, 2003, my grandmother passed away.
The call came in while I was working. My cousin worked at the same place I did and was called up to deliver the news to me. She came to pull me off a phone call and I knew instantly why. I collapsed in the floor that day. My world had shattered beneath me. My grandmother was cremated and her ashes spread in California. My uncle handled everything. And for that I have always been thankful. In the months following, I was numb. To meet me those months you would never had known. Life went on as usual. I went out with my friends. I drank more than I should way to many times.
Six months after she was gone, the ice wall I had built around me cracked. In a petty argument I was having with my mom, I broke down for the first anyone had ever seen except my grandma. I cried hysterically for an hour into her arms. I was devastated and angry and hurt. My grandma was supposed to be at my wedding. She was supposed to meet my kids, her great-grandkids. She told me she would never leave me and she had. I was lost.
I recovered as many people do. I met my husband and we had two beautiful children. I ended up with the life she always wanted for me.
A couple times a year something triggers my memories of my grandma. The look of someone’s hand, the smell of perfume she loved, an old picture. And on those days, I break. Today, right now, is one of those days.
This evening I saw a picture of someone who resembles my grandma. The heaviness in my heart hit and my eyes welled with tears. This is one of those hard days. The days when I realize all the moments my grandma didn’t get to see. The grandchildren that she never got to hold. The husband that picks up the pieces of these hard days, that she never met.
And tonight, I called my mom. In all my sadness over the last 13 years, my mom has become that person for me. I have called her for the happiest and saddest moments since my grandma passed away. She has kept me connected to the woman that she wanted to be when she had grandkids of her own. On the days when I realize my grandmother is gone, I still have my mom. And that realization today warmed my heart again. I can feel my grandma’s presence through my mom. I can see it in her eyes when she is with my children. I think I realized for the first time since my grandma passed that she isn’t gone. She lives on through my mom with my kids. My kids will forever know that joy that I did.
Thank you mom for talking and laughing with me tonight. Thank you for finding ways to help Bany live on for me. Thank you for being my world when I thought I had lost it.