|Gramma with my family. 2003|
Death is inevitable, isn’t it? Every person alive today will die; there’s just no denying it, no escaping it. So why is it so hard to deal with? These are the things I pondered, yet again, throughout our Saturday. March 3, 2012. She would have turned 81, but she didn’t live past 79. Nobody knew it was coming, Nobody could have guessed she would fall and be found like that. Yes, she was my gramma, but she was more than a gramma to me. I grew up in her home. I ate her meals and vacuumed her carpets. I did her dishes and grew frustrated with her stubborn annotations. I watched her grow old, and she watched me grow up. I knew someday she would leave us, but somehow I thought she would live forever.
And the most difficult thing I now face- forgetting her. I feel so guilty even putting it out there. I stare at these words and am consumed with shame that I could ever cease thinking about her. But the truth is, it’s happening. At first it was too painful and I purposed to set my mind on anything but her. The tears were too many and the ache too deep. After a time, it became easier. I found myself going a whole day without the shedding of tears, and I was grateful. A day turned to days, days to weeks, and weeks to months. How could I go months without aching over the loss?
I’m afraid of forgetting. I’m afraid I won’t be able to close my eyes and see her face. I’m afraid it will become impossible to recall the sound of her voice. I’m afraid of forever losing the sight of those hands; hands that revealed not only decades of demanding labor and unbearable loss, but moments of accomplishment and perseverance. All those memories and years together; could they just disappear?
Saturday, March 3, 2012, I purposed to remember her. I purposed to reflect on the rock of this family and not let the memories fade with her aged body. I purposed to hear her voice and see her rocking in her favorite chair. I purposed to laugh about her coffee; the coffee we referred to as ‘colored water,’ about her Christmas tree buried beneath a blanket of ornaments, and about her endless yogurt containers she refused to dispose of.
I giggled out loud as I recalled that stick she half-hazardly shoved into the ground. The stick that actually grew into a real, living plant; no one else could accomplish this. I purposed to be thankful for turkey gravy only she could make, heaping piles of newspapers stacked beside her chair, and the bountiful flowers she surrounded herself with. I purposed to allow myself to simply feel- to feel frustration at her stubbornness; frustration that she wouldn’t let us take pictures of her and now we’re left with just a few. I purposed to recall everything I could about her. And I purposed to never, ever let myself forget.
Grief is real. Grief is strong. Grief is sometimes unbearable. But grief is also something I find myself clinging to; grasping after; grieving for. May I always grieve her, and may my children be granted permanent memories of her- memories that will last a lifetime.
How do you keep your lost-loved ones alive? How do you keep the memories real and tangible? How do you go on with life and not let their faces, voices, and unique personalities fade with time? How do you do it?