Bedtime is when I feel the closest to her. 

For as long as I can remember, I always feel a new burst of energy and a yearning for connection at the end of the day.

Almost ceremonially and ritualistically, I peel the weighted blanket off my bed each night, fold it, and place it on my bureauan act that always connects me to the memory of her pulling her fancy bedspread off her bed and hanging it on the blanket rack each night. 

Bedtime and the act of folding that blanket each night spark something in me, and my always too loud mind slows and aches for some conversation — just like we used to do during the commercials between Golden Girls, Murder She Wrote, and Dallas.

She was a far better bedtime conversationalist than my snoring husband.

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Some nights her words come flooding back to me — telling me over and over again how smart I am, how I should be on Jeopardy someday, or how she liked my hair pulled back into a ponytail because she could see my pretty face better. 

I have no memories of her ever telling me she loved me, but I never doubted it. I felt it. All the time. 

I felt it when we would sneak Milano cookies down the hallway and eat them in bed while watching TV, being careful to not let my grandfather know. 

I felt it when she asked me to make her some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese because she liked the way I made it. 

I felt it when she would take me out shopping all day on Saturdays and never placed restrictions on what I could order for lunch at the restaurant we would stop at on the way home. 

I felt it when we would sit at her kitchen table and drink hot tea and talk about the Queen, our spoons clinking loudly as we stirred in the milk and sugar. 

I felt it every time we were together even if we were doing nothing — somehow especially when we were doing nothing.

It’s been almost 25 years since I’ve seen her, but I find myself feeling connected to her so very often. 

I feel it every time Milano cookies find their way into my shopping cart, and I get to enjoy them with my sons. 

I feel it every time I open a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for my son, my niece, or my nephew. 

I feel it every time I catch a glimpse of myself with my hair pulled back in a ponytail.

I feel it every time I get to watch Jeopardy or see a reference to The Golden Girls. 

I feel it every time I sit and enjoy a good cup of tea or when I watch The Crown.

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Some nights after I pull back that weighted blanket, when my mind begins to wander, wondering what kind of mother, wife, and friend I was that day, I find comfort in the lessons of love my grandmother taught me. 

I don’t need to plan big trips, be a perfect person, spend lots of money, or create elaborate memories in order for my children to know I love them. 

The truth is the things that fill our hearts when we lose the people we love are the little moments. The mundane, simple, and ordinary moments are what keep us connected to them and make us feel their presence long after they have left this world.

The little things are what remind us we were loved.

Jenni Brennan

Jenni Brennan, LICSW is an author, podcaster, college professor, therapist, and mother. Her work centers around the topics of grief, health and wellness, relationships, and parenting.