This is one of the hardest letters I've ever written, and there have been others that contain dried tears and emotional memories just like this one. In my mind, this shouldn't be so hard to write, but because of the growing bond we stumbled upon in your last year, I can barely contain my feelings.
When I had to choose a sponsor for my Catholic church confirmation, there was no one else I could think to ask other than Papa. But Papa was sick and getting worse by the day, so I knew you were destined to be my sponsor. As we went through several months of preparation that included small group discussions, homework we had to do together, and the actual event of being confirmed, I had never felt closer to you. You became an important person in my life, and through the confirmation journey, we both strengthened our relationship with God.
Before our paths crossed in this religious paradigm, I didn't have the dedication and passion for my faith like I did post-confirmation. I was so deep in my faith that if my parents didn't go to church on the weekends, I would go on my own. When you offered to meet me there almost every Saturday night, I was so excited to have a buddy. Our bond shot to the moon after that, and I thought this was the start of a great year.
You weren't feeling well during my confirmation, and I was so worried about you. I was scared you were sick with Cancer for the fourth time; I never thought my paranoia would actually be true this time. When my dad broke the news to my sister and I, my heart shattered. I prayed to God, begging for you to fight this awful disease like you had countless times before, but you slowly began to fade away.
Each month you grew worse, with chemo and radiation failing to shrink the cancer. A few times you landed in the hospital, cutting it close to leaving this earth. Finally, you couldn't take care of yourself anymore and you went to a hospice center. I watched you wither away rapidly from then on, and I just froze. To this day I regret not talking to you more, spending more time with you, and for staying quiet when you needed the comfort of my voice.
When you passed away, I wasn't okay. I went through the remainder of my senior year in high school with sadness and a numbing sensation to life. I lost interest in school, in activities, and in my faith. Without a grandmother, I felt lost. If I saw anyone with their grandmother, I felt sad and jealous that they had another day, another month, another year with them. All I wanted was you back and healthy, but the only thing I had was your grave and memories of the past.
It took me so long to fight through the depression and agonizing grief I felt after your death, and even still today I have moments like the first few months where I wasn't okay. But after confiding in close family, friends, and having a teacher who helped me through it, I began to live my life again. Therapy also gave me another outlet for my troubled state of being, and I didn't constantly think about your death anymore. Most importantly however, was my safety net and comfort to write poems, stories, and journal entries to relieve my pain and sadness when I needed immediate action.
Even though I still think of you often, I have finally begun to move on and find a sense of peace with your passing. I remember the love and memories you gave me in my eighteen years of life, and cherish the people I care about even more. I will never forget your cooking, your strong faith in God, our Culver's runs, the love you had for Papa, and the summers spent at your house as a kid. You are and always will be an inspiration to me, and I hope to have the faith, love, and kindness that you showed others, even when they were undeserving of it. I want to be like you, who always put others first and had a generous heart to share with anyone and everyone.
Wherever you may be, I hope you're happy and get to be with the love of your life, your parents, and other friends and family you missed during your time on earth. I am determined to make you proud, and I want you to know that I love and miss you with all my heart. You will always be the cardinal that flies through the sky, spreading your wings and soaring to greatness. I love you forever and a day.
Love forever and a day, Maki