I haven’t been back to her grave since the day we had her ashes buried. I’ve thought about it a few times. I thought about how it would be comforting to see her name on the grave stone, to see the physical proof of her existence. But then, too, I thought it would be weird to see something so personal, the name of my grandmother, out there on a rock in the middle of such a public place.
And I’ve thought about going because it seems proper. It seems like the right and normal thing to do – go there and introduce her to my two youngest daughters, the two she never got a chance to meet.
But I guess I’ve never gone because I just haven’t really felt the need.
I had never really lost anyone close to me before my grandma died. That was four years ago today. At the time, I was so scared. I had so many questions.
Would I ever again feel truly at peace with one of the most important people in my life gone?
When the pain starts to ease, will the memories ease as well?
Will the pain ever ease?
What will it be like when I have more babies? Babies who she will never hold in her arms?
Four years later, I have some of my answers.
I now know that the pain will ease. Most days I’ll think about her from a place of comfort. But some days, some moments, the magnitude of what I have lost will hit me like a ton of bricks, and I’ll find myself sobbing as I drive down the road or as I lay in bed or as I stand in the shower.
Will I forget her? The question that terrified me those four years ago now seems almost laughable. How could I forget her? She’s still here.
I see her face in pictures of my sisters and my cousins.
I see her creative spirit in Magoo’s artwork and imagination.
I see her fire in Goosie’s eyes, and I see her gentleness in little Mae’s soft touch.
I hear her voice when I call Goosie an imp or I tell Magoo to put her coat on because she’s going to get sick.
I hear her name when I call Goosie by her given name, one she shares most of with her great grandmother.
I see her joys when I talk to my sister about the television show we all loved so much.
But the most important role she played for me was as my grandmother, and as such, I see her most clearly in my own mom, my daughters’ grandmother.
I see it in the way she looks at them with such pride.
In the way she excitedly awaits their arrival, and only sees the beauty in them once they have arrived.
In the way she laughs at their antics and cries at their heartache.
I see that in this entire world, besides TJ and I, no one loves those three little girls as much as my mom and dad. And through that, I see them. I see her. I feel her.
And I guess perhaps that’s why I’ve never really felt a need to go visit her grave. It’s because she is all around me. I feel her in the bright rays of the sun, and the sweet scent of my lilac bush, and the wave of comfort that comes across me in times of trouble. And I don’t need to introduce her to her great granddaughters because I believe she already knows them. That she was there in that room with me when Mae came into this world. That she was watching over Magoo on her first day of school and that she laughs at all of the silly faces Goosie shows us on any given day. And I believe that before they ever made it down here to take root and be knit together deep inside of me that she was up there holding their hands and being the mother to them that I was not yet able to be.
And today, the day before Mother’s Day, I guess it just leaves me with one giant feeling of gratitude. Gratitude that because of the gifts given from my grandma and from my mom, that I can now in turn pass those gifts on to Magoo, and Goose, and Mae. That I come from a long line of women who know, above all, what it means to love. Who have left me with a legacy that I am not only happy but am proud to pass along.
It’s a big and lonely and confusing world, and sometimes I shudder at what my girls will have to face as they make their way through it. But I never doubt their spirit or their character because I know that through my hands, the same hearts that guided me all those years will now be guiding them.
So thank you to Mom and Grandma for making me who I am. And thank you to my aunts and my sisters, my sisters in law and my cousins who get to walk the road with me and get the priviledge of carrying on her spirit. It is my honor to walk among you.
Happy Mother’s Day