The Summer I turned 30 was grueling, my grandmother had suffered a stroke that April and even though I was able to celebrate with friends for my birthday in June, it really was just a respite from the weekends spent in the car making the 3 hour drive to Dallas to be with my grandmother and father, who had put his life on temporary hold, in the hospital ICU, then the rehab center and finally the nursing home. It was a devastating loss for me even though I knew she was better off after suffering for nearly 4 months hooked up to machines and unable to speak her wishes, I knew she didn’t want to live this way, we had many conversations about it. My grandmother was a very independent woman after enduring an abusive relationship with my grandfather, raising two boys on her own in the 50s/60s and working nearly everyday of her life. I admired her perseverance and her ability to love unfailingly.
She and I always had a special relationship since she never had a daughter and I was her first granddaughter (and was the only one for 16 years). She lived with us at one point in my childhood when my parents were still married and when my father was trying to provide a home for us after the divorce while he traveled for work, I lived with her again in middle school. There were many nights where it was just the two of us, we talked about her family growing up, how close she was to her father and sisters and how protective she was over her baby brother. She told me stories about my father and uncle’s antics growing up and I saw her undying love and pride for her boys. There was even I time when I thought I wanted to be a single mother because of her stories, even though I know there were hard times and it was probably the most difficult thing she ever did.
Her death was the catalyst that started our discussions to have a baby. Even though I didn’t expect her to be attending my child’s wedding, I did always believe that she would be there for the birth and would know that I was a mom. When that was no longer an option I was filled with great sadness and then fear…there was no guarantee how long my father would be around and I most definitely wanted my child to know him and more than just a memory in a photo. I find it ironic now that my daughter whose middle name was in honor of my grandmother resembles her in many ways. I am not a religious person but I am a spiritual person and I believe that my grandmother is with me in one way or another. I still miss her, deeply, and still have moments where I think about calling her and it’ll be five years this August since she died. I don’t think I will ever stop missing her and wishing she was here for me during this journey through motherhood. I wish I had asked her more questions, I wish I had visited more; I wish that my daughter will understand the importance of grandparents and realize the time you get with them is precious and should not be taken lightly.
I don’t know if it’s the pregnancy hormones or just my natural cyclical way of mourning, but I have been thinking about her a lot lately and missing her all over again (more than usual). Maybe it’s the whole life/death thing, while pregnant and dealing with all that goes along with bringing a new life into the world, I can’t help but think of death too, those that will not be here to meet this little one, another child I will have the overwhelming task of trying to convey the stories of a person they will only know in photos. It seems like I am never really done mourning my losses, is anyone?