That’s how it ended. That simple, that plain–she’s left us and I’ll never see her again. She left peacefully, quietly, so easily.
And I should feel happy for her. I should be joyous that she is no longer among us, that she is with my father and her family where she’ll be for eternity and everything is wonderful for her once again. No longer will she hurt or despair, but us? We’re just beginning.
I’m mad as Hell, which is fitting for the peaceful eternity she finds herself in now, away from us all–away from my rage and despair. She was my childhood. How can I let her go so peacefully, so joyously?
She was the good I remember about growing up. She was summertime–popsicles from the musty shop, weeding the flowers, hot dog cookouts and stories on the front porch.
She was every single holiday. She was Thanksgiving–noodles and cookies and pots and pans that have real soul. She was Christmas–tiny villages and sparkling lights and more cheer and spirit than even Santa possesses. She is the smell of firewood and pine trees.
She was my yardstick. She was married for almost 60 years to her very best friend, she was history and strength and perseverance and dedication to family, community, home, and life. She was brave enough to let me try stupid things, and kind enough to hold my hand in understanding if and when they failed.
She was home.
She was the constant in my life–no matter what, I knew she would always be there, sitting on her front porch with a glass of iced tea and a willingness to at least endure whatever I was up to now. Home was the smell of fudge and flour, soundtracked with a Southern accent and sharp wit.
And I fear, so deeply, a world without her in it. I wonder what will happen to my childhood, to the milestones I’ve come to know as exclusively hers. I’ve had time to prepare for, “she’s gone,” but there’s not enough time in all the universe to prepare for, “and now we have to keep going.”
Trapped here in my loneliness and selfishness it struck me–she alone prepared us for, “keep going.” She married an incredible man who is the other half of the home I have come to call my own. She gave me my mother, my aunt, my uncle, my cousins, my sister, my nieces and nephews. She gave me a lifetime of memories not just with her, but with these people who I love more deeply than I can ever possibly tell them. She began the structure that will continue to hold us all together in love, memory, and fun.
She silently held us all together for years, and though we fear that we will fall apart without her to do so, I realize that she’s done exactly what we needed to stick together.
We will miss her. We will never forget her. We will be telling her stories and regaling her glory for generations, as we have the generations before her.
With one another, with new family members, with new memories to make; it will never be the same without her, but it will be. And that’s enough to know that we, and she, will all be alright.
My grandmother passed away Friday night after a short and vicious bout with cancer. While she is no longer hurting and for that I am immensely grateful, no amount of time having known her would have been enough. I am having a hard time right now, so thank you for your patience.