From the day I was born my grandma was a huge part of my life. She lived next door, and unless one or the other of us was on vacation, I saw her almost every day for 18 years.
We'd get home from school, and she'd walk over and start fixing us an after-school snack.
We'd get home from school, and we'd find her in the kitchen fixing stew for dinner.
We'd get home from wherever we had been, and she would be there. And when she wasn't at our house, then we'd go over to her house. She'd put rollers in my hair and paint my fingernails. Just about every Saturday of my teen years, she and I went shopping because that's what we loved doing.
When we moved back to the Family Farm this past summer, again I got to see her almost every day. My daughters would often run over to my parents' house--where my grandma lived now--and visit with grandma. And get gum from her. When you're two, getting gum is the best there is, and grandma was definitely the best.
At the funeral last week, my sister told the story of how one of her college friends commented about us being raised by our grandparents. "Well, sort of," my sister had replied. "I have parents." The friend persisted: But weren't your grandparents the ones who raised you? No. Or rather, not exactly. Our parents raised us. And our grandparents were there to help raise us in a different kind of way. Not by disciplining us, but by showering us with endless amounts of attention and love.
Losing my grandma has been the hardest loss I've ever experienced. I feel displaced. Out of sorts. I burst into tears by looking at my clothes organized by color, just like my grandma's closet. I lose track of my thoughts and have taken to writing down ideas on scraps of paper so I don't forget. Even in this short bit of writing here I noticed (before editing it out) that I had written "they lived next door" multiple times, as if that's the piece of information I need to convey the most.
She lived next door.
She was like a parent to me.
And now she is gone, leaving a huge void in my life that I know will be filled up with wonderful memories, but aren't just yet. Right now it's just a void. Right now her bedroom is her room...without her in it.
I'm spending this month writing about my grandma because it's just something I have to do. Writing has always been my way of working through life, and I'm hoping that by writing through this loss I'll find my way again.
I love you and miss you, Grams. Always.