On Grief

My Grandma died this weekend and my grief feels like a massive burning flame. I’m afraid to get too close to it for fear it will totally consumes me. My Grandma read everything that I wrote, and I always write to make sense of what is in my heart. So writing this for her is the best thing I know to do to when I’m feeling a little lost.

She always heard the song of my heart.

My Grandma wasn’t just a grandma to me. She was my person. If you like or admire any little thing about me then there is more than likely a thread that you can trace from that quality, to her.

Her love of coffee and pizza. Her love of late nights and disdain of early mornings. Her love of beautiful things – art, music, clothing and people. The way she loved. The way she gathered. The way she always, always made space for people – in her home and in her heart. She was never out of room.

A few months ago, my Grandma was in my home having lunch with me. The kids were out playing and I was telling her about something difficult in my life. She reached for my hand. She told me I was doing a good job. And when I cried, she told me she loved me.

My Grandma was many things. But to me, she was my safe place. My soft landing. The one person who really saw me, and didn’t just see me, but liked what she saw. She told me she was proud of me. She told me she loved me. She told me I was doing a good job.

Yesterday, I got to hold her hand. I got to tell her I loved her. I got to tell her I was proud of her and that she had done a good job.

And then, I got to say goodbye.

I don’t know why people talk about comfort in times like these. The only thing that would bring me comfort right now is if I were to wake up tomorrow to find that she is still here. I’m angry that she is gone. I thought we had more time. I don’t want a world where she isn’t in it.

But in the face of not finding any immediate comfort, I do have something.

I have this raging, burning love that is rivaled only by my raging, burning grief. And I know you can’t have one without the other.

She loved me so well. She showed me how to make space for others. She showed me how to enjoy the beautiful things of life. She showed me how wave a middle finger at the people who say you drink too much coffee and stay up too late. She showed me how to hold people’s hands and look them in the eye and see them for who they really are and say that you are proud of them. She showed me how to live a life that wasn’t perfect – but perfect was never the goal. The goal was always, always people.

I know I was just one of many fortunate people whose life was made better by my Grandma. But to me, she wasn’t just a grandma. She was the person who showed me pieces of myself.

Grandma, I’m hitting “publish” on this post at 1 am. I’m thinking about our late nights at your old house. Do you remember the night you introduced me to Butterfield 8? We talked about how glamorous Elizabeth Taylor was and ate ice cream and then you asked if I was spending the night and when I said yes you walked away to put clean sheets on the high bed before going to your room and turning on your bedside light to read into the small hours. You never asked me why I was there and not at home. You never gave me advice. You always just made up a bed for me and had coffee ready in the morning. You always had room for me. I love you so much it hurts, Grandma. I hope I can do the same thing for others that you have done for me. And when they ask why I am the way I am, I can say, “Let me tell you about my Grandma Barb.