I am one of the blessed ones to have grown up with you by my side. You taught me to crack an egg, do my own laundry, and that there is always time to sit and talk over tea. You encouraged me to chase my dreams, no matter the cost. You never once forgot to tell me how proud you were of me, or how you loved me even when I wasn’t making the best decisions.
Grandma, I remember the day I walked into the room and told you I was expecting your first great-grandchild. I was only 20 years old, very recently married, and honestly, I was terrified. I just knew you would look at me like everyone else had and tell me it was too soon. I just knew that you would give me that disapproving glance over your glasses with a slight huff and shake of your head. You didn’t, though. Instead you broke out into the biggest smile I’ve ever seen you wear and gushed over how excited you were.
The day that first beautiful baby boy of mine entered the world, you were right there. You looked at him like the sun had gone out and he had somehow brought it back to life. You went on and on about how you had never seen someone so perfect, not even your own children. You went out and bought funny shaped teethers and onesies with sarcastic sayings on them. When he was admitted to the hospital at seven months old, you rushed out to get a welcome home gift. You loved him endlessly.
You did the same when I came to you just 16 months later to tell you he was going to be a big brother. In a time everyone else felt the need to voice their concerns, you radiated positivity. You lifted me and my babies up. You told me I had nothing to worry about.
A few months later, you got sick. What started as a cough landed you in the hospital with a diagnosis of advanced stage small cell carcinoma. You fought until you couldn’t fight anymore, and I stood by your bedside as you left us.
Luckily, my prayers were answered and you got to gush over my second baby while he lay in your arms. You didn’t get to rush out for teethers and onesies this time, though. Instead we rushed to you, keeping small hands away from oxygen lines and medications that covered the countertops. I had prayed that my sons would be as lucky as I was with you, too, but God needed you more.
In the wee hours of that April morning when you left us, you left a gaping hole in all of our lives. Since then, I’ve been trying to think of the things I need to teach my sons in order to fill it. The truth is, though, I can’t. I can teach them to crack eggs, do their laundry, and to slow down every now and then. I can make sure they know how loved they are. I can’t fill them with the sound of your laugh, though. I can’t look forward to the day that they’re finally old enough for you to teach them how to play cards with you. I can’t fill the hole that belongs to you and you alone.
I know it was your time, but to me you will always have been gone too soon.
I will always wish for one more afternoon talk over tea. I will forever think of you when I see a teether shaped like a piece of bacon or broccoli. Every time I pass by a gigantic chocolate cake in the grocery store I will smile a sad smile because I know if you were here you would pick it up, plop it in the cart, and share a devilish grin with my boys.
I wish you were still here beside me physically, but I know you’re here spiritually. I know that whenever my boys are having a tough time, you will be right there with them. They may not get to see your smile or hear your laugh, but I know they will feel your comfort. Your physical body may be gone, but your love is eternal.