Losing my Grandmother
Last week, my beloved grandmother passed away, a few months shy of her ninety-fourth birthday. Even though I knew she didn’t have much time left with us, I was still shocked when I received the phone call. It happened quickly. She had a heart attack at home and was rushed to the hospital. A few hours later, she left us.
The news of her death hit me harder than I would have expected. Toward the end of her life, her body and mind had deteriorated, which was difficult to watch. My once-active grandmother, who used to jump into the ocean with me, take me to Broadway shows, and dance with my grandfather at parties, could no longer care for herself. When I spent time with her, I was reminded that life is one big fragile circle. We enter the world helpless, and if we’re fortunate enough to live close to a century, we exit the world helpless too. Despite my grandmother’s senility, she always knew who I was, relishing my visits and our conversations on the phone. It was as though a mystical yarn, made from twisting together strands of love and memories, kept us connected, despite how far apart we lived.
My grandmother was a shining light in my life, and in the lives of all who knew her. Her funeral was bittersweet. Swallowing the lump in my throat, I shared a poem at the service that I had written in her honor. And I listened, sometimes smiling and other times teary-eyed, as the rest of my family recited beautiful words commemorating our matriarch. Everyone mentioned my grandmother’s wise advice: don’t take anything too seriously, never stop laughing, and always eat dessert first. Thinking back to her funeral, I view it as––the final paragraph or the epilogue––which sums up her entire book. Clearly my grandmother came here to teach us the most important storyline, offering the best ingredients for a life well-lived. Her message was loud and clear and will forever remain in the pages of our hearts.
Death is strange. As painful as it is, there’s also a sense of peace when someone we love, especially someone who lived a long and full life, moves on. I’ll miss my grandmother, but I want to believe that even though her body is gone, she will be with me in spirit and in the special memories we shared. Sadly, I’ve seen a close friend and a few family members taken too early, including my father, who died at age thirty-three. Unlike my grandmother, he missed out on so many of his children’s milestones, never having had a chance to walk his daughter down the aisle, or see the births of his grandchildren, or watch everyone around him blossom. Most of us have no idea how long or short our time here will be. Each day is a gift and should be lived the way my grandmother told us—with a belly full of laughter and sweets.