I said goodbye to you today, but you didn’t even hear me. Your eyes fluttered open, you briefly looked into my eyes, but not a hint of your previous twinkle was there. You turned your head, closed your eyes, and mumbled something that sounded like, “honey.” Your heart is still beating, and your lungs-they’re still filling and empting out air. It’s just your body though-nothing of YOU is there. I like to think that you’re already halfway to heaven, arms out to hug Grandpa. I sat with you for four hours today, just holding your hand, rubbing your back, and caressing your head. I will treasure those hours until I can see the REAL you again.
We’ll never meet again on this earth, Gram You’re not going to ever see Rowan grow up to be the strong, goofy man that you want him to become. You’ll never get to see me (God willing) get married. I wish with all my selfish heart that wasn’t how it has to be. The part of me that loves you like a grandaughter, a friend, a confidant, a mentor, and someone I would wish nothing but happiness to, wants you to go quickly and without pain. So, just so know, you can let go now. it’s ok. Go see Grandpa and your heavenly Father. We’ll miss you, but we’ll see you someday. You’ll always be with me-like a handprint on my heart.
So much of me is made up of what I learned from you. You always told me to never save things for a special occasion. EVERY day we are alive is a special occasion. Nothing in your house was sacred, we were allowed to touch, pick up, and even use the most expensive ironstone dishes you had. Regularly we served each other tea and spaghetti o’s in $500 dishes. Why? Because we were together and alive. No other reason was needed. Now, at 32 I practice that philosophy. There are no such thing as “the good dishes.’ If Rowan wants to use Christmas dishes in March, AWESOME! Our last day could be tomorrow, and me, for one, will never have the regret of not letting things go. I got that from you.
Books! And more BOOKS! Aside from the books that you wrote and actually published and sold, there were the ones you read to me. You taught me to love to read at the tender age of 4, and I haven’t stopped since. I love to hear about the stories of people I will never meet, of places I will never go-things I will never do. “Picture it.” you would say. “Pretend you were there. Be the character you have the most in common with. Get into the story and don’t come out.” From Steinbeck to Harper Lee to Alcott to Paulson to countless others, you cast me into these roles, giving me the tools to not just read about these characters, but to learn about them, sympathise with them, and learn from them. These are tools I will hang on to for the rest of my life. I got them from you.
The gift of time is the one I will treasure the most. You ALWAYS had time for me….for anybody really. Never once was I turned away because you had to do something else, like make dinner. You just pulled a chair up to the counter, handed me a spoon, told me to mix whatever it was you were making, and we talked. I suppose sometimes we just stood there in silence, working side-by-side. That’s ok though, because did you know you can absorb love? You can, just by being close…it works, trust me. At the end when we were both living at my parents house, you used to ask me to play scrabble with you, and I’d have to say, “I don’t have time right now, Rowan needs this or that….” You never once made me feel bad or guilty. You would cheerfully say, “Ok!” I always knew deep down though, that if the roles were reversed, you would have made that time for me. I’m sorry I didn’t. I’m sorry I didn’t always stop into your room to sit and talk and just be with you. I’m so, so sorry for that. I will always grieve for that time. For the time we did have together-for the years of growing up with you, learning so much about books, art, how this planet is made so beautifully, how to make the best meatball soup in the world, and how to love and forgive and laugh and give. Even though most of the time all you had to give was your time, that was enough. I learned that from you.
How could one possibly ever list everything we’ve learned from you? I know who I am today because I knew you. You were strong and brilliant and funny and a good friend. We got our ears pierced together. Me, a scared five year old…you a scared 54 year old. We held hands and laugh-cried through it. It was one of those moments I will NEVER forget and feel so happy for the five year old me to have that support, and for the 32 year old me to have those memories.
Watching my once so bubbly grandmother deteriorate these past few months has been excruciating. Watching the person I love start to fade and slip through my fingers has been enough to bring me to my knees. It’s also given me the chance to show just how much I love and respect and care for you. Visiting you every day I could (which has been pretty much every day), advocating for you, changing your diaper, helping you bathe, feeding you with a spoon, sitting through physical therapy with you, cuddling with you for hours, pouring through old photo albums. Those games of Scrabble I should have played with you earlier? I finally got those in. Here’s the real kicker: I lost every game-right up to the end.
I won the lottery when it came to grandmothers. You were every single thing a grandmother should be. You’ve loved, and taught, and scolded, and then loved some more. You gave and gave and gave and never wanted anything in return. I hope you felt the love I have showered on you these past few months, even if you couldn’t express it.
You’ve left a legacy, Gram. One of kindness and gentleness and love for our Saviour. So many people have benefited from the generosity of your heart, and even though I had to share you, it was worth it to see what you’ve done for others in your lifetime.
You may be here physically still, but I’ve started to let you slip away. It’s harder than I ever imagined it would be. I would never trade the lifetime of memories and lessons for these weeks of grieving. I think you were the most awesome person I’ve ever met. Thank you….for everything.
I love you, Gram. (Even though you always told me I have boy’s hands…good strong working hands. Hands that can do anything. I hated that as a kid. Now, as I go through the rest of my adulthood withouth you, I will always think of you when I look at my hands.)