“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7
On July 24, 2014 I lost not only my grandma but the woman who inspired me to be a better person each and every day! Being the second child, my parents needed to return to work relatively soon after I was born. With this news, my Grammy made the decision to retire from her long career as a Registered Nurse and stay home to take care of me. We did absolutely everything together. When it was time for me to start preschool, my Grammy found a half day (only three days a week) program at our local church so that we could still have most of the day to spend together just the two of us! Life was perfect, everyday we would watch Sesame Street, Franklin, and Little Bear and on Tuesdays we would go grocery shopping. My Grammy lived with us so we continued to spend most of our time together as I was growing up. I would count down the hours while I was at school until I would be able to go home and hang out with Grammy. At the age of three, I received a Molly Doll from The Big Comfy Couch and we became best friends! There is not a single photo of me as a child that does not have Molly in it. Grammy did not try to take Molly away from me, instead she was encouraged by how I could foster such a close and loving relationship with my doll. When Grammy would finally win the argument of Molly needing to take a “bath” she allowed me to take my little chair down to the basement and sit in front of the washing machine until she was done. When the washing machine finished washing, Grammy would bring the wet Molly down to me in my little chair and I would give her a hug and a kiss before she went into the dryer. Once Grammy shut the dryer door, I would pick up my little chair and move myself over to the dryer until Molly was done. At the age of five I started Kindergarten. Every morning after packing my lunch, Grammy would put Molly in my backpack and send me off to school. One terrible day in Kindergarten there was a fire drill! When the alarm started going off my instinct was to go to the back of the classroom to grab Molly before heading to safety, but I was stopped dead in the tracks by my teacher and ushered outside. I was devastated to say the least. I cried for hours when I got home and Grammy figured out the only way to console me. Every single day, right before nap time Grammy would drop Molly off to me, wait outside the classroom, and then take Molly back home after nap time was over. With this solution, I was never in the position where I would not be able to save Molly in the event of a fire at school. Now you might be thinking what does this have anything to do with my story of loss? Well the answer is, at such a young age, my Grammy instilled the values of love, trust, and sacrifice in my little brain. She showed how selfless of a woman she was to give up almost two hours five days a week just so I would feel safe during nap time. I spent my entire childhood and young adult life doing everything I possibly could with my Grammy because she was honestly the most important person in my life.
Fast forward a few years to my senior year of high school. I was applying to college and narrowed it down to my top two choices: one was in Texas (I lived in New York) and one was about five hours away from our house. Grammy always wanted to best for me so I figured she would tell me it was completely up to me and I was right, well at first! My Grammy told me that no matter decision I made she would make sure to visit and call everyday. However, a few days before the New Year she pulled me aside and pleaded with me to pick the college that was only five hours away. I never told anyone that. My parents and sister assumed that I eventually made my decision because I couldn’t be that far away from my family but in reality, I made that decision because the woman who I put on a pedestal my entire life was in tears asking me to stay close so that she could get to me within just a few hours in case anything was ever wrong. She let me know how much it would kill her to know that I was across the country and I knew that I could never do that to her! At the end of February, I officially committed to the school that was five hours away. For my birthday on March 4, 2013 my Grammy wrote the most beautiful card (which I know have framed) and a check for enough money that I would be able to take the train home to visit every month! On March 6, 2013 my entire world was rocked. My Grammy had a massive stroke and brain bleed which resulted in an extended stay in the ICU. She eventually regained consciousness but lost the ability to control movement from about the neck down. She also had a hard time speaking, and when she did speak it never sounded the same. I stayed hopeful and prayed every single day that she would get better, but it was eventually a reality we all had to face: she was mentally present but not physically. In July of 2013 she moved into the nursing home down the street from our house. I would go visit every single day for lunch and then to come back after dinner. It was hard but I understand now that it was harder for her not to be able to come home. It was even worse when I did eventually go away for school, five hours away. My mom made sure that I video chatted with Grammy every single day still and the second I would come home on breaks I would go straight to Grammy. On July 24, 2014, a little over a year of being at the nursing home, Grammy was called home to God.
Not a single day goes by where I do not miss her and it has been four years. I put my trust in the Lord that he made the right decision but it does not take away my grief. A few months ago in the middle of the night, right before I got married, I drove down the street to the nursing home she once resided at and parked my car. I pulled into “my spot,” put the car in park, and refused to leave. I was determined to sit there until my Grammy walked out of the door and was ready to go home. This was May of 2017, almost three years after she passed away. I was inconsolable and eventually my sister had to come physically remove me. It is still hard to drive past the nursing home, it is still hard when I see an episode of Sesame Street is on T.V., and it is even harder when I think about all of the things she missed out on. I will continue to work on my grief and put my full faith in the Lord that I will make it through this!
“My eyes are dim with grief. I call to you Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.” Psalm 88:9