It’s been almost a month and a half since you passed away. I’ve been wanting to write this for awhile, especially as I prepare to travel to your funeral in a couple of weeks.
In the days following your death, I found myself feeling angry. I was angry that I didn’t get a chance to see you again, to say what I wanted to say to you, ask questions I never thought to ask before – to really say goodbye.
It took me a couple of weeks to finally cry about you – to sit with my memories, hold them tenderly, and let the realization wash over me that I’d never see you again. Even though I’ve never really lived close to you, life still seems a little more empty now.
You and grandpa were larger than life to me as a kid. And as an adult, seeing you was like a window into those carefree days at the lake – playing in the water with grandpa, then devouring the sandwiches you’d make for us on the deck.
I’d give anything to re-live one of those days. But the best I can do now is keep you alive in my memories – the childhood ones and the adult ones. And feel your presence whenever I see the rest of the family – because I know you’d be there too if you were still with us.
I’m so thankful for you, Grandma. For your love, care, laughter and presence. I’m grateful for the most recent times I saw you.
Especially Christmas of 2013 when we convinced you to come spend it with us here in Georgia and our whole family rented a big house in the mountains. And when you stayed a night at my house afterwards and we spent the afternoon at the Marietta Square – just the two of us – wandering in the little shops and talking.
Even the very last time I saw you – after Aunt Liz’s funeral, when you were in the hospital. It was one of your good days. We laughed, we talked and you were…you.
But I’m so sorry, too. I’m sorry I didn’t call you more, visit you more. And I’ll never get that chance again.
In the early morning hours of December 17, 2018, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. You had been moved to hospice the night before, and you were all I could think about. More specifically, your laugh. The one where you’d laugh so hard, you’d snort. And in my sleeplessness, I prayed. I prayed for Aunt Donna, your faithful and loving caregiver. I prayed for you, for peace when you passed. That those of us left would feel God’s love and presence very strongly in your absence.
At some point, I fell back to sleep. Later that morning, I awoke to a text from Dad. You were gone. He told me later that you passed right around the time I was awake, thinking about and praying for you. I was planning to come see you in just a couple of days.
I know I wasn’t physically there, Grandma. And I’m so sorry I didn’t make it in time. But my heart was there with you, and I’ll carry you in mine forever.
Recently, someone told me that when you see a cardinal, it’s someone that’s passed away waving hello to you. I’d never heard that before. But ever since you passed, I have been seeing cardinals everywhere. When I see them, I smile and say, “Hi, Grandma.”
And today, like many days since you left us, I’m picturing you reunited with Grandpa, snort-laughing and dancing around some room in heaven – so happy to be with him again.