One year later and I can still remember exactly what I was doing when I got that call – I had just pulled in to grab lunch before an afternoon of meetings. Knowing a trip to Vermont was imminent, I was trying to get client work in order before then, so I was planning a short lunch before a 1:30 internal meeting and a 3pm client call with one of my more…difficult clients.
As soon as I heard the words “She’s gone,” I skipped lunch. I drove back to my office crying as I called Hubs and collapsed in the arms of coworkers who knew this was imminent. The next few days were a blur. A long evening drive with hubs and Little Man. So many phone calls. So many hugs and more tears than I ever knew was possible.
How does it feel like just yesterday when I was laying on the couch in the house where you raised my dad, my aunts and uncle and so many of your grandchildren, chatting with you, learning more about your life, sipping on late night Miller Light and watching bad television? It wasn’t yesterday though, it was nearly a decade ago. Nearly ten years from when I’d hear country music waking me up as you and Papa would read the paper. Ten years from spending summer afternoons following you around the garden asking you all of the questions about your plants, helping you pick green beans, or water your beloved roses.
In that decade, we all watched the worst disease slowly take over your memory. The first time I really noticed it was a November trip to Vermont at my dad’s – you kept asking the same question over and over and over again. No one would say the A word, but we all knew. That was 2011 when Adam was at Basic training in Oklahoma.
Cousins will say that you knew us all along, even after you couldn’t remember our names, but that being in the presence of your family made you smile until your dying day.
Our last conversation – though one-sided – is burned in my mind, we face timed thanks to K. I told you I loved you. That Ethan was getting so big and that I was so glad you met him. I was so afraid though, afraid to say how scared I was of a life without you in it. You were my rock through so much of my adolescence when I often felt alone and abandoned. You were the rock for many of us during those tough years – we all had them, and you stood by us all.
I’m so thankful that I had an incredible Nana. I’m so thankful that I have 32 years of amazing memories. That you met Little Man, that you were at Adam and I’s wedding, that you were able to celebrate my graduation from college even if you weren’t there – the first of your eleven grandchildren to graduate from college and I’m pretty sure we celebated over Malibu & diet and miller light – our favorite drinks at the time. How was 2006 so long ago?!
I’m so thankful that I told you I loved you. That even when you didn’t remember me back in June of last year, that I saw you, told you I loved you and hugged you. How was I to know that would be the last time? Traveling was just so expensive, and work was so demanding. I wish I had made one last trip even though seeing you like that broke me every time.
I’m thankful that your passing brought all of us together – it was the first time in years I had seen my cousins, the ones who shaped my childhood from all those weekends at camp, and during the summers I spent visiting you. Even though the years have taken us all down different paths, we all had you in common and on that chilly November night at your wake, we all hugged and remembered. Our grief bringing us all back together.
This holiday season, friends, be thankful for your families. Though we’re spending the holidays here at home, I am so thankful that last year we were able to spend thanksgiving with family, that little man was able to play with second cousins, and that I was able to spend time remembering our favorite Nana stories. I was/am so lucky that I have those to cherish.
I can’t believe it’s been a full year…