Today is the seven year anniversary of my grandma passing away. Grammy was the first, and really only person, that was close to me that has died. While I feel lucky to not have experienced a ton of loss in my life, losing my grandma was, and is still hard to this day.
Grammy was the best grandma I could ask for. She was kind, listened to me when I needed her to, didn’t play favorites with her grandkids, and was selfless. She worked in a factory so she didn’t have a lot of money but she always made sure that each of her grandkids had a special Christmas and birthday.
Beyond the material items, Grammy always made me feel loved. I could call and talk to her for hours. We lived a couple hours a part so I never saw her as much as I liked. When I turned 16, I knew that I wanted to try and visit her as much as I could. Unfortunately, around the time of my high school graduation in June 2008, we found out that she had esophageal cancer. By October 7th of that same year, she was gone.
While I’m thankful Grammy didn’t suffer for years, I wish I would have had more time to come to terms with her dying. Before we found out she had cancer, she had moved out to Las Vegas to help take care of my uncle who was going through his own struggle with cancer. She left around Christmas and had planned to come back for my graduation and return to Vegas shortly afterwards.
I remember talking to her on the phone and she mentioned that she was having problems swallowing and she couldn’t eat anything. My mom talked her into seeing a doctor when we saw how much weight my grandma had lost in the five months since the last time we saw her.
My grandma went through a couple rounds of chemo but her cancer was so advanced the doctor basically told my mom there was nothing he could do for my grandma. These details aren’t as clear to me. I had just moved out to attend college for the first time. My first two months of college, I was too wrapped-up in enjoying college living and I didn’t visit my grandma as much as I wish I had. I think a large part of me honestly believed I had more time with her.
I did make the effort to come home the last couple of weekends before she died. But she wasn’t the same Grammy. She couldn’t laugh, she couldn’t talk, all she could do was listen to what I was saying. The last time I saw her, she was on pain meds that basically made her sleep all the time. I tried talking to her and she would kind of grunt to let me know she was there, but it wasn’t enough.
I don’t think my family even realized how soon she was going to die because they told me it would be okay to return to school. By Tuesday night at dinner time I got the call I needed to come home. At that point my grandma was still alive. By the time I made the two-and-a-half hour drive home, my grandma had died.
For years after her passing, I had dreams where my grandma would be there, but she couldn’t talk to me. The last year or so, my grandma has started to come in my dreams but now she can actually speak to me. I cherish those dreams with her so much because for a few seconds after I wake up, it’s almost like she’s still alive.
I miss my grandma more than I like to let myself think about. I often think about all the things she has missed. Two of my cousins have their own daughters. My aunt has found great man and is getting ready to marry him next June. She wasn’t there for my wedding and she never met my husband. She’ll never meet any of her great grandchildren. And she can’t be there as my mom’s biggest fan anymore.
The thing that makes me the most sad sometimes is knowing that she missed so much of my sister’s life. My sister was only 10 when our grandma died. 10 is too young to lose your grandma. Especially when it’s a grandma like Grammy.
I am grateful for the 18 years I had with her. I’ll always remember getting to spend the night with her and her letting me rent the same two movies every time I came over. Or the time she took my cousin Allison and me to the Corn Fair and I rode the spiny spaceship ride so many times I puked in her car. Or the time my cousins and I were for some reason in a potato field picking potatoes and Allie and I got prickers all over our clothes.
My grandma didn’t live the easiest life but she made her family feel loved beyond words. There’s never any easy way to get over the grief of losing a loved one. But sometimes honoring their memory makes it a little easier. I know Grammy is still looking down on me today. Sometimes I swear I can feel her presence with me. But no matter how much I try to remember the good times and enjoy seeing her in my dreams, I still wish she was here with me today.