There is something to be said about people who are not obligated to love you. Yes, I know that technically no one is obligated to love you but in some senses, they are. It's as if your brother and you get into a fight and your mother says "He's your brother and you love him. Stop fighting." Family is forever so in a way, we are obligated to love them, or at the very least put up with them. That's wonderful and I'm not degrading that at all, but that only amplifies the people that are not related to you, but choose to love you unconditionally. Now, I am only seventeen but in my short years, I have found that these people do not come often, these people are gifts from the universe. I like to think of it has a pat on the back for the toil of existing.
I had one of these people, and I'm sure I have more but you never know until it's years in the future and you look at your friend, saying "Holy shit, we've been friends for ten years, how are you still putting up with me?" Or until a personal catastrophe occurs and you find them being there for the hundredth time. Anyway, I guess I got lucky, very lucky, because, I mean, out of all the people in the world, what are the odds that I would end up being babysat by someone who gave her whole heart? Someone who would go that extra mile for me?
Her name was Donna, to many people I called her grandma, but in reality, she wasn't and that's important. She was not my grandma, she was a babysitter, then a godmother, but she earned a status of a grandma because she loved me and my sister unconditionally. As if she was obligated to, as if not loving us was never an option, and maybe that's what real love is. Maybe real love is not being able to turn away, turning down the car radio to listen to you, calling you smart and talented more than pretty, letting you cry it out on the couch during time-out but making you your favorite dinner after, being there rain or shine for every event you're in. There are countless situations that I could recall that solidified her love for my sister and I and I'm sure I'll write about them all because each one was done with such purpose and thoughtfulness that I doubt I could ever find another person to live and love in that same way.
She passed away in April, unexpectedly, from Broken-Heart Syndrome. That is what this article is specifically about and she deserves more than this. I suppose the key word in that is unexpectedly because, even though in many ways I was expecting it, the veil of doubt coated my rose-colored glassed so well that I never prepared. God forbid I prepared for something that, in my mind, was impossible. My sister and I recalled one day sitting on the stairs of our house crying when we thought about that day it happened, and she wasn't even gone yet.
The point is there were things I never told her, things I never asked her before because everyday I saw her I thought she'd be there tomorrow. Every time I had a day off from work and wanted to relax, I didn't visit her, because she'd be there tomorrow. I went so far as to be holding her hand in the hospital, crying, praying to a God I didn't even think I believed in anymore, making deals with the devil in my head, thinking of all things I should say but not saying them. I didn't want her to think I was giving up on her by saying things that sounded like goodbye, because I wasn't giving up. I never would. Hours passed and I had to let go of her hand and what did I say to her last? What brilliant statement would I leave her with?
"You be here tomorrow, okay?"
She nodded as best she could and squeezed my hand, always the fighter she was. Until the last second, I thought I'd have time to do the things I should have done.
I did say I love you but I should have said it before she was in the hospital. I never thanked her for loving me when she was not obligated to. I never asked why she loved me or if she liked Janis Joplin. I never asked who was her best friend in high school or what it felt like to not be able to have children. I never asked how the hell she learned to be so goddamn strong and if I could ever be half the woman she was. I didn't spend time with her because I was too busy trying to make her proud, things I thought matter more when they didn't. I wanted to say "I love you, thank you, and I'm sorry" so bad that day, but I didn't. Now, I'll never get to and the only comfort is that maybe she knew, maybe she loved me enough to not need these words but she deserved better. She still does. But it's too late.
The things I should do have become the things I should have done and it's over. All I have now is the fire she lite inside my heart to be the best person I can be, to be half of who she was, to make her proud. It's the only way I have to say I'm sorry.
Don't wait, say I love you, say thank you, spend New Year's Eve together because it may be the last year, love unconditionally. You know what you should do, so just do it.
"You girls always say that you don't know what you'd do without me but you never ask yourselves what I would do without you. I don't know what I do without you." -Donna S.