9 Things That Happen When you Lose Someone Who's Always Been There

9 Things That Happen When you Lose Someone Who's Always Been There

Whenever we got together we always spent time talking, just the two of us, even if for only a few minutes.
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I think we’ve all had at least one person in our life who was just always there. For as long as we can remember, there was a person who seemed to be around you no matter what: birthdays, holidays, vacations, random afternoons. They were always a presence and life just seems complete with them there.

Mine was my great-grandmother. I can’t think of an occasion where she wasn’t a presence in my life. She was there from the moment I was born, on every holiday she was there to provide the family prayer before dinner, and on weekends she would always drop by my house to say hello.

I would never have imagined in a million years that Thanksgiving would be the last time I would see her.

I didn’t think I would lose someone I was close to until last year. I always knew it was a fact of life, but I never thought it would happen to me so soon. I sat at her funeral crying on my boyfriend’s shoulder over a month ago and since then I’ve realized a few things that happen when you lose someone you thought would always be in your life.

You miss the little things.

Whenever I asked her how she was doing she would respond with, “I’m going well for a young old lady.” She was wildly funny and would make jokes about everything. I think fondly of the days I spent at her house as a child with my siblings when we played board games and played with the endless little toys she had as keepsakes.

You smile at things that make you remember them.

Things like her beautiful singing voice, her surprisingly hot temper, her crisp red nails, and the way she was content to see anything artistic I would do put smiles on my face at random times throughout the day.

You cry at things that make you remember them.

It really hit me that she was gone during Christmas dinner. Whenever we had dinners at my house she was always sitting at the table to my right. It felt like something was wrong that day. I kept waiting for her to come through the door. Of course, she never did.

You remember what they taught you.

My great grandmother taught me a lot of things over the years. She was one of the people who instilled in me my love for music. Whenever I sit in my car, I think the summer she spent teaching me how to drive when I was 18 and how happy she was when I got my license that August. She taught me to love myself, that it was okay to be sensitive, and many more things that I will always keep with me.

You hope that they’re in a better place.

She’d always had a lot of health problems, from diabetes to arthritis. She suffered from cancer for a long time before it finally took her away. I like to imagine that wherever she is, she’s feeling better, she’s able to move without pain, and she’s singing her heart out again like she always did before she got sick.

You have regrets.

I regret not calling her more. I regret not having one more conversation with her on that Thanksgiving before she left us. I regret not spending more time with her as a child. I regret not listening to her tell me another story that I’ve already heard a million times. I regret not sitting down on the couch with her one last time and telling her about what I’ve been doing lately.

You tell yourself that you have no reason to regret.

As I have these regrets, I have to remind myself that there is no reason to. I did all that I could. I spent as much time with her as I was meant to. Most people don’t have the privilege of having their great grandmother around for 21 years of their life. I’m lucky that I had the time with her that I did.

You wish they could be there for your future.

I wish she could be here to see what happens to me next. She wanted to see me graduate college. She was excited that I’m a fitness instructor and I’m sure she’d want to see where I’ll go with it. She loved my boyfriend and I wish she would be here to see us get married. She would say we should have 12 kids and while that’s definitely not happening, I wish she could be here to see at least one of them.

You miss your special conversations.

Whenever we got together we always spent time talking, just the two of us, even if for only a few minutes. We told each other our fears and doubts or what was going on in the family at the time and how we felt about it. No matter what always made it a point to tell me that I was her first great grandchild and that made me her number one. “You’re very special to me,” she would say. “I love you so much.”

Cover Image Credit: Jessica Ricks

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.
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Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Remembering My Grandma's One-Of-A-Kind Recipe

Like the melancholy candies in Because of Winne Dixie, the infamous orange cake brings more than just a taste. It recalls a timeline of memories that I shared with my grandmother, or at least I think it would…

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Years ago, and hand-in-hand, my grandmother and I shuffled and shaked around the terracotta floors of her beach condominium, baking the most decadent cake, the infamous orange cake.

Her and this cake had a lot in common: The cake was almost as sweet as her. As soon as she or it was gone, you wanted, needed, more. The brilliant zest and orange-scented buttercream could even keep up with her one-of-a-kind flair. These are my memories of Grandma Margie and our cake – two things that are now out of touch but always within reach of my mind.

My grandmother passed away seven years ago from the terrible monster of cancer. As time has continued since her passing, it has become easier for me to swallow my memories of this cake, the memories of her. I can now say that the songs we sang together, the little habits she performed, and pictures that seem to float up from nowhere can pass me on most days and be taken in with a soft smile and a gratitude prayer for all she gave to me. This week, however, my mind and soul are weeping for the memories we made.

It was Sunday evening when I received the phone call from my mother. My early childhood neighbor had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, what is known as malignant "octopus tumors." Together, Nicolette and my grandmother were united by this ravenous disease that invades and overtakes. Immediately, I broke into tears. Remembering my mother's previous texts of the day, mentioning heartbreak, devastation, and sadness, I gasped in all the air I could find to hold back the sobbing. I wanted to be strong for my mother – the same way my grandmother had been for all of us. It was as soon as we said goodnight that the unrelenting flood of emotion overcame me. There was no stopping the tears, even though I tried to remember my grandmother's saying that crying only makes your eyes puffy and your nose red. Sunday night, my looks didn't matter.

At just twenty-nine years old, Nicolette has now had her life taken from her for sixteen months. It was hard enough for me to understand why a seventy-five-year-old woman had to suffer, never mind this young soul. Even in the difficulties I face as I take bites into each new day this week, I must remind myself of the ingredients my grandmother gave to me for a delicious life:

1. There is ALWAYS more to give.

Grandma Margie gave, and gave, and gave. As an in-home nurse, she spent time around the clock giving up her time for the benefit of others. She never came around empty-handed. Whether it be a handwritten card or a present for a milestone birthday, she did this solely for the smile that lit up the room when she handed out her gifts. With her, there was always a piece of advice that you would not only listen to but use. Even in her time of pain, she still had all of this. A tradition that is still carried out in my family today is this: each time there is a celebration for yourself, whether it be a birthday or an achievement, always ensure that there is something for those who are surrounding you. These people are your support. Without them, would you be where you are? There is always more to give to those people – ways to thank them, make them proud, and more. Put everything you have into all you do. Give.

2. Never leaves sour. Always leave sweet. 

It's sort of like the saying for couples: never go to bed angry. But for her, it went beyond this. Grandma Margie ensured that she left each room better than when she entered it. Frowns were turned into smiles. Despair was turned into hope. The list goes on. Through these actions, my grandmother left this earth surrounded by others who saw something in her that I don't think she saw in herself. It was her light that shined, reflected, radiated, and has even grown since her passing in 2011. Choose to make something better.

3. A smile goes further than shedding suffering. 

In her final fourteen months with us, she suffered, daily. Chemotherapy. Radiation. Sterile bed sheets. Loneliness. Inability. But, she didn't see any of this. Instead, Grandma Margie saw the warmed butter croissant she would get at the hospital Au Bon Pain or the newest hat she would find at a local HomeGoods. She would look forward to the presents she could still give her grandchildren and the smile she might bring to the nurse's face with her snappy attitude. Yes, she still had it! My grandmother continued to let her light shine, regardless of her physical pain. She knew, inside, that this is what helped the ones that stood beside her. Whatever the moment had for you, offer something more positive to another.

All I have left is the memory, the taste. Somedays are sour. Somedays are sweet. For all of those remembering their loved ones, I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to remember this when smelling her perfume, hearing her favorite song, or seeing her favorite film: "It crosses your mind, and a smile comes to your lips before a tear to your eye. That's how you know. I promise you; I give you my word, I promise you, this I know. The day will come. That day will come" (Joe Biden, at John McCain's funeral).

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