Saying goodbye to Grandma....
My Grandmother passed away a little after 7 pm on September 2nd, 2020. She's been in my life for as long as I have memories, and I guess I had somehow convinced myself that she would live forever.... she didn't. She was the strongest person I have ever known. I know that a huge part of who I am and even who I'm yet to become is because of her. She was my best friend, my confidant, and my biggest fan in the world. I could tell her anything and never worry if she would betray my trust. It never occurred to me that one day I would have to figure out how to navigate this world without her in it. It never occurred to me that her voice, her laugh, and her hugs would become memories instead of moments. I had watched her beat the odds so many times; I was sure she would again... she didn't. Trying to imagine a world she doesn't live in has been almost impossible for me, and I'm only three days in. My Grandma was the anchor that kept me calm in the chaos. She kept me alive through some of the darkest and hardest days of my life. She always believed in me, even when I couldn't.
She was relentless lately about seeing completed pages on the project I'm working on. Every time I saw her or talked to her, that was the first thing she would ask. I finally brought a couple of chapters with me to show her on my last visit. The second I saw her; I knew in my heart this would be my last visit with her. Seeing the strongest woman I know, in the weakest state possible, broke me. I told her I had to get a drink of water and I stepped outside to fall apart. I let myself cry and get all the waves of emotion out. I recomposed and returned to her room. I had to kneel closer to her head so she could hear me read the pages of my manuscript. Then she reached out her frail hand and asked if she could hold the pages. I handed them to her. She looked at each one, smiled, and handed them back. I was told to come closer. She said, "even though I can't read the words on each page, I can see your name on the first one, so I know every page after that you wrote. That tells me you didn't quit, and that's all I ever needed to know." She fell asleep after that and I left the room for a while to let her rest and recompose myself again. She was struggling to breathe, even on oxygen, so I knew each word she spoke to me was a fight and wore her down. I went back into her room to say goodbye and I knew it was the last goodbye. She was talking to her sister, who had passed away ten years earlier. I hugged her and l told her I loved her. She hugged me back as frail as she was, and she whispered "I love you too Hun". I cried all the way home.
That was the last time I saw my Grandma and the last time I will ever see her on this earth. She was always so thankful for every call, every visit, and every letter and card. I tried to send as many as I could. I hope they brought her joy in my absence. I've spent over a decade battling chronic Lyme disease; visits were not always possible for me. I did always try my best to stay in touch in any way I could. We all get so busy doing the things we dream of, working towards our career goals, and just trying to survive some days that sometimes we miss the little things. Later we learn those little things were the biggest things in the world. I stayed in touch, I visited, I called, I face timed.....it will never feel like it was enough. I am learning the only thing you wish you could get back in the end is time. It's not the moments you live you regret later in life, it's the moments you didn't live. Grief is an odd thing. You have this massive hole in your heart, and you hope it will heal... eventually. There will be days you think you are fine and then out of nowhere a wave of emotion will hit you and you can't breathe. I've had multiple breakdowns since she passed away, including tonight. Time heals all wounds, they say, but this time it's just a little different, a little deeper. This time, the wound is always going to be just a little more tender. A piece of my heart is just not here anymore.
My Grandma was the most incredible grandmother on the planet, and I can say without question, I would not be alive today if it were not for her. All the tears I've cried, the fights to not give up, the hopelessness, the fear, the confusion, the pain, the anger. All the emotions I have fought every day to stay alive, to keep moving forward in this life as a person of kindness and empathy despite pain and struggle. She saw all of it. It's a side I've let very few people truly see. I also saw all of hers, her fights with anger, her battles internal and external with hurt, and trying to forgive people who had broken her. She could be stubborn and opinionated, and wrong. But, she taught me strength, dignity, and how to stand on my own two feet. She taught me to be a servant and a fighter. I watched her wait on my grandpa hand and foot, but she also taught me that I didn't need a man to complete me, but that it was okay if found one who did.
My husband's name is Ramon; there is an accent over the o, so it's pronounced more like Raw-Moan. My Grandma adored him, but until her dying day, she always called him Monroe. That was the one funny moment for my husband as he said goodbye. She mispronounced a lot of things. That moment reminded me why I loved her so much. We were losing her, and she had us all three laughing because of a mistake. I realized, for all the things I watched her battle in her life; that she changed the most, for the better in the last year of it. She was just now learning and unlearning things, forgiving people who had hurt her. She was still changing, still teaching lessons at the time she felt she was losing the most of herself. She taught me failure isn't the end, sometimes it's the open door to the right path.
She wasn't perfect. None of us are, but I think that is what I admired most about her. It didn't matter. What have I learned from her death? First, if you are breathing, it's not too late to change, forgive, and be a better human being. Second, make every moment count, because moments become memories and it is the memories that get you through the lifetime