My Grandmother died five days before my seventh birthday on the 23rd of April 1997. These are things I would say to her if I knew she could hear me.
Seventeen years. Wow. Nearly two decades. You’ve been dead almost three times as long as I’ve been alive and I miss you. I miss you so much my heart is sore and I can’t stop the tears from welling in my eyes or the pain I feel. And I want you to know that every person who told me that my heart would heal and that the pain would stop was a liar. It has never stopped hurting. It just hurts differently.
I don’t regret many things in life but I regret that my seven-year-old self did not realize how serious things were when I saw you that last time. And, I’m sorry Granny because I spent the entire time in that hospital room being slightly awed that I’d finally seen an oxygen mask in “real life” for the first time. You see I thought in no time you’d be home and everything would be alright. I couldn’t understand why the aunts were crying or the cousins or my mum so I didn’t try to understand. I just kept focusing on that stupid mask. And, I’m sorry because when ma called me into her room the next morning and told me you had died I was too busy watching the sunlight filter through the window. Now that I have had years to think about it, I think I just didn’t want to hear. I’m sorry that I didn’t cry then. I’m sorry that I didn’t cry in the days that followed and that I still managed to be excited for my birthday. I’m sorry that the highlight of the day of your funeral was that I got out of school early. I’m sorry I didn’t cry then either. But, seventeen years later, I still see your casket being wheeled up the aisle sometimes when I let my guard down. And I’ve cried so many tears since then that my teardrops should be enough to build me an ocean to swim to wherever you are. I cry whenever I see an old woman walking down the road because I wish you were still here. And I cry because I hate the world for having the audacity to keep on spinning without you in it. You’ve missed weddings and graduations and the birth of great-grandchildren. You’ve missed a black president and iPads. You’d be so surprised to see how big we’ve all gotten now. And, remember that time I convinced you to give me your grape soda and have my orange juice instead? Remember how I pointed out that sodas were unhealthy and you were old so you needed the Vitamin C more than I did? Yes, I know I argued more than most kids my age. And yes, I know sometimes I was probably a little bit (read: very) annoying. Well, you’d be proud to know that I’ve figured out a way to make arguing a job. Let’s hope the Courts are ready for me.
I panic sometimes because it’s getting harder and harder to remember your face. You’ve become hazy in my mind. Forgive me but I don’t remember your voice or your laugh. I can’t remember your smile. I’ve not forgotten everything, though. I remember that you were loving and kind. I remember that you were really, really patient when I got into trouble wandering off like some wild-child when everyone else my age was stuck in pre-school. I remember your favourite hymn was the Lily of the Valley. I know we sang it at your funeral. And, although it may have been a big stretch to think that Lilies were your favourite flowers too – I’ve assigned them to you. In a couple years from now (many, many, many), some little girl will bear the name Lily in honour of you.
I can’t remember everything, Granny, but I remember the love I felt for you. And, even without you here it continues to grow, because neither time nor the icy fingers of death can dislodge the torch I will always carry for you in my heart.
So sleep on beautiful soul.
I love you.
PS: If you and Uncle Joe are together right now tell him I’m still here, holding the fort and stirring up enough trouble to make him proud.