4 Mar

I said goodbye to my Grandma on Sunday. Mom called to say we should come, so I did, and I brought my brother with me. We sat in her room, we talked. We talked about how sunny it was that day, how hot it was in her room, we talked about nothing. I watched her. I thought about how much she didn’t look like my Grandma anymore. I watched as her body struggled to breathe. Machines sustaining her. They tell me she was comfortable, I hope that’s true. She didn’t move or speak, her eyes stayed closed.

My Mom and Grandpa left. My aunts left. Laird and I sat there, and talked about nothing. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to be the one who left her alone. So we sat. When we decided to go I didn’t know what to do, Laird suggested I say bye. It made sense, though didn’t feel like enough. Nothing feels like enough. How do you…What do you say in that moment? I knew nothing I said or did would be the right thing. I put my hand on her arm, and said goodbye. I had nothing else, I could think of no other words. I turned around and stepped away. I didn’t want to cry in front of her. I didn’t want to cry at all. “I don’t want to do this”. “Just, turn it off?” Laird asked, suggested maybe.

That’s how I’ve spent my days since Mom called Tuesday morning to say she was gone. I’ve been turning it off. Except when I can’t. Like in the morning before the kids get up, or when I’m driving, or watching them skate, or standing in my closet putting away laundry. Those times I can’t turn it off. At night, at night I really can’t it stop. The flood of words, the burning in my throat. It doesn’t feel so easy to make it stop in the dark, when it’s quiet, when my mind has nothing to stop it from going there.

I find myself fighting, searching for the words. I want to be able to describe her. To say who she is, who she was. I get stuck thinking I don’t know. She was something different to everyone. I realized this more than ever watching my Grandpa brush her hair and speak soothingly to her while she was in the hospital. She is the love of his life. They should have celebrated their sixtieth anniversary this year. After all that time he’d sit beside her and hold her hand while they talked. She was so much to so many people. I can’t know all of that.

What I do know is what I think of when I think of her. I think of her big, warm hugs, her laugh, she was always quick to laugh and she loved it. Her humor, we had to laugh with her, she made sure of that. I think of peanut butter snowballs, thumbprint cookies, her cherry cheese cake, the most amazing turkey dressing there has ever been. Her always perfectly done hair and her red lips. I remember her gardens, the huge one full of vegetables, and berries, huge raspberry bushes that she’d walk right into to get the best berries which I’d try my best not to eat carrying them into the house. All of her flower beds and all the plants lining her windows in the house. I can hear her calling my Grandpa, from downstairs, or in the garage, or outside, “Reg!” It was dinner time or I wanted him for something, or she wanted him to tell me a story or some detail she couldn’t remember. His mind is a steel trap. I remember her stubbornness, not so much because I saw it, but because I knew we shared it. I remember her hugs.

When the hospital would call and say it was time, we would all go. And even in those times sitting there with her you couldn’t get anything past her. A joke or a silly remark we thought she didn’t hear. Her quick wit was still there, and her laugh. Every time though she would prove them wrong. She’d turn it around, she wasn’t going quietly. I’m not sure she did anything quietly.

She was the biggest personality in the room, she loved to talk and laugh. She loved to be with the people she loved. And she loved us fiercely. I was never uncertain of that.

Tomorrow she is to be laid in her final resting place. I know she’s ready, she fought long and hard. The worst is for the rest of us. The ones saying goodbye. All I can do is remember, hang on to her voice in my mind. And most of all, her hugs, I will remember her big, warm, you-know-she-means-it hugs. I love her, and I miss her. But I am so thankful to have had her as my Grandma.



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