Thursday, June 25, 2015

What She Left Behind...

It has been one year. Three hundred sixty five days. It feels like it was yesterday. I remember where I was the exact moment I got the first phone call that something was wrong. I remember hanging up the phone and getting my ducks in a row to meet mom at the hospital. I remember standing around Grandma's hospital bed in the emergency department flanked by my mom, cousin, sister and my cousin’s wife. I remember holding her hand. I remember turning my head to the side so she couldn’t see the tears glistening in my eyes, threatening to spill down my cheeks at any second. I remember how her hand felt in mine and I remember telling her I would see her when I got off work and that I loved her. She couldn’t say it back but I seen it in her eyes.
I remember nothing about going back to work. I have no idea how I got there or when because it’s all a blur. I do remember going back to the hospital and gathering at our booth in the cafeteria while we waited for them to set her up in a room. I remember thinking and later saying that they should put a name plate for us above that booth in the cafeteria because it always seemed to be our spot whenever something happened, rarely have we ever gathered there for a happy occasion. I remember our family being around her bedside and coming up with a plan. I was going to see her the next morning and bring coffee for the family as they made the shift change so I could see Grandma before I went to work. There was no way we were leaving Grandma alone. I told her I loved her and that I would see her in the morning because we had a plan. Whenever she would get sick she would always say “Don’t worry about me baby. I’ll be alright” and then would pat my hand. I would lean in to kiss her on her forehead. She would say I love you and Lord bless you. But she didn’t say it that night. She couldn’t talk. She never told me she would be alright. I left. She never said it but I left anyway. I wish I would have stayed.

I remember getting the phone call a couple hours later. I remember Sarah’s calm voice as it came over the line asking me if I could come back up to the hospital. I remember holding on to hope that I would make it on time and driving like somebody lit my butt on fire. I remember talking to my friend Julie on the phone all the way to the hospital. I remember getting out of the car and turning to see my sister Tracy and my cousin Michael in the parking lot. I will never forget the look on Michael’s face as he shook his head no and opened his arms. I remember burying my head in his chest and him holding on to me while I sobbed so hard it shook the both of us. I remember all of us sitting with Grandma while we waited. I remember telling the nurses that someone had to stay with her while they did what they needed to because she couldn’t be alone without one of us…until it was time. I remember falling apart sitting in the chair in that hospital room, my body wracked with sobs. I remember our family as we cried and hugged and laughed. I remember Michael rallying behind me, Tracy and Katie. We kissed Grandma for the very last time and I told her to remember that I was her favorite. It was our little joke.

I remember the funeral. I remember getting up there in front of all those people…those lives she had touched in some way. Friends and family who were there to support us in one of the most devastating moments of our lives. I remember sharing memories that have spanned my lifetime. The funny things she used to say to us. She was so full of wisdom and she would be proud to know we use her grandma-isms often. I remember thinking I want them to know the woman we knew. I wanted them to know just how much she meant to us and how well loved we were by her.

Three hundred sixty five days later. It hasn’t gotten any easier. Grandma and Grandpa’s empty house is a constant reminder of the love that used to live within its walls. The shared holidays, making candy, slumber parties with cousins, the giant bug with a vendetta, the couch that almost ate Aunt Bea and me…so many precious memories. I would rather have the house empty though because I can’t imagine someone else living there. I still won’t let Mark mow over the flowers in the front yard just in case Grandma might be watching. We have devised a plan to make people believe the house is haunted should anyone move in and we know we shouldn’t be that way because nobody will like us but we have decided we don’t much care. We will never forget how she prayed over us, how she blessed us, how much she loved us. We will never forget praying to Ernest, the pink slippers, two four six eight Johnny had a little snake, or riding the horsey. I will always remember corn pops in coffee cups, and hot dogs with a blob of ketchup, swinging on the porch swing, her hair up in curlers and standing by her side year after year as she taught me to make fudge. Nobody will ever make banana pudding like her, or strawberry parfait. They won’t be able to make pea salad, green beans or onion dip taste as delicious as Grandma’s. I miss her every single day. We miss her every single day. She was the closest person to a saint I have ever known.

So…Lord bless you, Grandma. Oh and when I get to heaven you and I are going to have a long talk about all those vases.
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