To My Grandma Who Is No Longer With Me On Her Birthday

To My Grandma Who Is No Longer With Me On Her Birthday

9 years later and I am still missing you
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If a little girl is lucky they have a playmate: someone to kneel down and enter their world of pretending. Someone to acknowledge their fantasy worlds of princesses and dolls and unadulterated happiness. I was in the elite class; the luckiest of the lucky.

My grandmother was my best friend. She would kneel down and pick-up a doll and the two of us would sit on her yellow carpet and laugh and talk and simply be for what felt like the best hours of my life.

When I was younger it was dolls, when I got older it was coloring and even older Harry Potter. Being the high-quality wizard that I am, naturally, I dubbed myself Hermionie. Never one to stop the fun, my grandma adopted the role of Harry Potter and allowed me to draw a lightning scar on the aged skin of her forehead. We glued sequins onto popsicle sticks and cast Patronus charms from sundown to sunrise.

Another one of our favorite activities was taking walks. No matter if the visit was at my house or hers, we had a route.

If we were in her neighborhood we would walk to the duck pond and throw pieces of torn up bread into the water to provide the little bird's sustenance. If we were at my house we would walk down the block to the cul de sac and then circle back.

Each walk was, of course, accompanied by my grandmother's signature chocolate chip cookies. We would walk and eat and laugh and smile and talk. And even as young as 10, I remember how thankful I was to have someone who would chat so openly with me.

Someone who would be there for me when I turned the elderly ages of 13, 15, even 18, and give me advice when I was in more desperate need.

My grandma, full of smiles and laughs and oh so willing to enter into my world of make-believe, cloaked herself in all black. This was something that always brought me a bit of confusion: why did my grandma, the happiest person I knew, choose to represent herself with the color most commonly associated with sadness.

Later, I learned, it was because despite the facade that she put on for me, my grandmother's life was anything but happy.

Sick. It was a word that haunted her for as long as I had known her. She pretended to be carefree, but she wasn't. She laughed with me, but could never fully enjoy. And she loved entering my fantasy worlds, likely because she needed to escape from reality even more than I did.

She was sick, and despite the fact that she fought off the disease three times before, the fourth time cancer stole her life right from under her.

I was 10 and lost my best friend.

First, it was confusion, then anger, then sadness. But finally, it came to acceptance. Acceptance that she wouldn't be there for the most critical years when I would need her the most.

She would never see me graduate middle school, nor high school, nor go to prom, nor be accepted to college. She was not there waiting at the door with her sneakers tied and her signature cookie the first time my heart got broke, like my 10 year old self had expected.

And now, this past Wednesday she would have been 75. And I am 19. The last time I saw her she was 66, myself 10. And so much is the same, yet so much has changed.

And while she isn't here to celebrate, I hope that she is proud to watch us as we grow. And I hope that the next time that I see her, wherever and however that may be, she will be waiting with a cookie, her sneakers tied, and a walking route all planned out for us.

Cover Image Credit: No Greater Joy Ministries

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To My Little Brother

Six things I want you to know.
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I am not your mother, but I am your big sister.

I cannot even apologize for it, I am always going to act like your second mom. I am going to keep yelling at you to (please) put down the toilet seat and to clean up the mess you made in the kitchen. It doesn't matter to me how often you say "I am not your mother," because you're my little brother and I'm always going to be the boss.

I never mean it when I tell you to grow up.

I hope that you have taken, and continue to take, full advantage of your childhood. As often as I complain about your maturity level, my wish for you is to put off growing up for as long as possible. The closer I get to real adult life, the more I miss home and all of the worries I didn't have. You shouldn't rush through the years you have left at home, you are doing just fine the way you are.

No, I didn't tell Mom.

All of our secrets will always stay secrets. I may have ratted you out to Mom about being the one to break her new vase, but I hope you know that our brother-sister bond protects all of the private things we share. Please, never forget that I'll always be here to listen to you.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for giving you your first bloody nose, and for laughing at you afterward. I'm sorry for every time I have blown you off for plans with a guy, or to get an extra hour of sleep. I'm sorry for yelling at you to leave me alone and for slamming the door in your face. I'm sorry for all of the times you asked me to play outside that I didn't. I'm sorry for all of my broken promises.

I forgive you.

I forgive you for all of the “little brother" insults you have used. I forgive you for using all of my paints and letting them dry out. I forgive you for embarrassing me in front of every guy I ever brought home. I even forgive you for cutting off that piece of my hair in fourth grade.

I am so proud of you.

It isn't said nearly enough, but I am so proud of you, little brother. I am envious of the passions that you have and the way that you pursue them with no fear! I am excited to see where you go in life (but don't go anywhere too quickly). Keep working hard and doing what you love, no one can fault you for following your heart. I love you so much, and I will always be your biggest supporter and fan!

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For Nana And Papa, Your Number-One Supporters Now And Forever

You guys are so amazing, words will never be able to capture the love I have for you both, but I can try my best.

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You guys have always supported me, and I am forever thankful for the support you have given me. Especially with me going off to college a couple of years ago, you never fail to tell me how proud you are, and you always make sure that I know I am loved.

You both have gone above and beyond in every aspect of my life, and I am forever grateful for you. From birth to now, I have never doubted that you guys are on my side and that you guys are the most amazing people to walk this planet. I'd like to say thank you for some of the things that you do for me (because it is actually impossible to cover it all).

Thank you for sending me mail.

Besides the constant reminders to set up accounts to this or that, you always send cute cards with sweet messages inside, and you never fail to brighten my day. Spending holidays away from home is hard, it takes every bit of strength I have to not make the trip home, but you make sure that I feel some extra love on those days.

Thank you for supporting me through all of my sports adventures as a child.

Baseball, basketball, softball, and any other sport with a ball. You were always there, cheering, bringing me snacks, and rooting on my team. You made sure that I was always on time and trying my hardest — thank you. Because of this, I know that to this day you are still cheering me on through midterms and finals and all of the group work in between.

Thank you for all the homemade cookies.

This is a joint effort for both of you, and I know that because one makes the cookies and the other saves a baggie for me. There is something about the drive back to school after a visit home, and I think it is a little easier when you can taste home. Thank you for passing along the amazing recipe that has fueled our family for years (I definitely don't make them whenever I am homesick...).

Thank you for giving me some great life values.

Sometimes I have to step back and realize that not everyone was raised like I was, and they don't know that what goes around comes back around. You made (and are still making) me a better person. Even if you are just telling me to calm down and that things will be okay; you continually make me a better and more understanding person.

Thank you for having an always open door for me.

That means more than you probably know, but I don't know who I would be if I couldn't constantly be surrounded by you both. You always welcomed me with love, acceptance, and usually a snack. To this day I find it so odd when others have to ask their grandparents if they can visit when I could burst through the door at midnight and nothing would be awkward.

You both have given me the gift of knowing that no matter what I am loved, and that no matter what I am always surrounded by people who care. You both are beyond amazing, I don't know what I did to deserve your amazing love, but I am so thankful that I have it.

I love you both so so so much.

Thank you!

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