My grandma passed away today. We watched her slip from this life into the next within such a short time. I remember getting the call just 6 weeks ago while I was at a wedding that something was wrong. Now she is gone and there seems to be an empty space.
The last few weeks have been filled with visits to her hospital room in between weddings and the normal jugglings of life and little ones. I have yearned to have her teach me all she could, share stories I have heard before just one more time, to tell her I love her more over and over, knowing that she may not hear me the next time.
I got a call late last night to come quickly. My brother Micah picked me up and we drove to San Clemente as fast as we could and stepped into a house that flooded us with memories, one that has been filled with years of Thanksgivings and crowded Christmas’ with the family, of Easter egg hunts in the yard and Pac Man in the garage, hidden toys and cabbage patch dolls in the closets, family dinners and cousins running the stairs….and laughter…so so much laughter and love. This night there was a little less laughter in the house but no shortage of love. ..and still family, always family. Grandma has given us that. She has loved us dearly and greatly and always believed in us. She has taught us to take care of one another and gathered us together often. Where Grandpa has been the duct tape, Grandma has been the glue. She has never wanted more than for each of us to be happy and to share life together with all it brings. She understands what it means to be sealed to each other. This family is one of the greatest gifts she has given me.
Her life again gathered us together last night as we sat near her bedside and I took her hand that had been held, and kissed her cheek that had been kissed many times before that week by everyone that loves her, and that I love too. Grandpa sat in a chair in a room near the bed and I snuggled up next to him. I have always loved cuddling up next to him from the time I was a little girl and he has always had the best hugs to give back. I was worried about him tonight. I can’t imagine what it must be like to watch your wife, who has been your companion and by your side for all of what you can remember lie in a bed with tubes and wires preparing to leave this life. But….she was beautiful still. Her fingernails and toenails perfectly manicured from her last visit before she went into the hospital just weeks earlier when they discovered the cancer. She wore a purple nightie that my Aunt Susie had picked up just this last Saturday for her with a cake, as my grandma and grandpa celebrated their 63rd anniversary. 63 years! Last Saturday, just days ago she was able to talk. By Sunday she was not able to get up or speak much. When I told her I loved her, she was able to whisper ” I love you more”. This night however, she lay quiet and unable to speak but gasping for air. …and still, she was beautiful with her soft gray hair falling around her face and the soft lines on her face that represented years of concern and love for each of us.
It was good to be with each other. We read from Grandma’s journals and family history that she had kept of each of us as music played quietly in the background. We learned that she saved every letter and card that any of us had sent her….every baby announcement, every wedding announcement. She kept up with each of her 5 children, her 20 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. She never forgot a birthday, she wrote us while on missions, hand-crocheted hats and scarves for us at Christmas and she prayed for us, always prayed for us. Tonight we continued to pray for her. Grandpa kissed her and told her that it was her time to go. She seemed to want to hold on a little longer. She never was one to want to leave a party or her family.
I returned home late and slept wrapped in the blanket that she had made for me at graduation, that had offered years of comfort through home-sickness and being away from home for the first time, through heartache and heartbreaks, through a mission, through my own marriage and births of my babies and the occasional flu. It has been there through all of it just like my Grandma. It is soft and somewhat worn but it will always be what I have to hold on to…with the many memories of a woman who has changed my life and taught me to love a little deeper and that life is truly about what we leave behind and what we teach our children and how we love them.
I will miss you Grandma.