It seems there’s never enough time. We inevitably find ourselves saying goodbye to loved ones before we’re ready. It’s not as if when a loved one dies, we say “gosh, we spent just the right amount of time with them”. It doesn’t matter if you spent minutes, hours or days with them in their final time, it’s never, ever enough.
The world has been full of sadness lately, and I do not find myself unaffected. I cried when learning about the school shootings last week. I welled up when I learned that my neighbor passed away a short three days later. Another three days, and my grandma passed away unexpectedly. Understandably, the most recent loss is the most painful for me.
I take comfort in the fact that she lived a long, full life. She leaves behind of legacy of kindness, love, caring and compassion. I admired her strength, perseverance and, yes, even her stubbornness. She tried so hard to help those in need, even when it meant she had to make sacrifices for herself. She took in family, friends and kids alike – anyone who came to her for help, even if it was just for advice. In many ways, we were very much alike, which could lead to us locking horns. We had conversations that turned in to a lively discussion. Regardless, we would always come full circle, moving past whatever topic we were discussing to end on a common ground, often agreeing to disagree.
My grandma was a very proud woman, which usually meant it was a losing battle to argue with her. She held her ground tightly, but was open to hearing and discussing other ideas. Those talks helped both of us see a slightly different point of view. Despite her strength during discussions, her humility shone through when she decided that she was, in fact, wrong. She wasn’t afraid to apologize when she’d hurt someone. Sometimes, we’d come back to a topic a few days after the initial discussion to find resolution and clear the air.
Today, we made it through a strange christmas day. My mom was gone, helping with funeral arrangements, and my brother and dad joined our family for christmas eve and day. (We missed you, Mom!) Now, with the holiday over, my grandma’s funeral is quickly approaching. As we move closer, I find myself struggling with the idea of letting go – of really saying goodbye. Despite her long and full life, my selfish side argues that she should have a few more years. It saddens me that my daughter will never truly know what a wonderful woman she was. It was easier to distract myself from the reality of it all when I was in the hustle and bustle of the season, but now, I’m facing this dead on. And I’m just not ready. She just shouldn’t be gone yet. I don’t want to say goodbye.
I feel lucky to have had such a wonderful grandma in my life. Although we haven’t lived in close proximity during the past twelve years, the memories from when she did live near us have stayed with me. Even though we lived far apart recently, she was there when I graduated from college, was a part of our wedding and has met our daughter several times.
I’m glad that I had a recent conversation with her. It was a few weeks ago, when we called to thank her for one of C’s birthday presents. I put the call on speaker phone so C could talk to her and thank her for the present herself. It was a good talk, but like all things in life, felt too short. We talked about her coming out for a visit in the spring, or us going out to see her if she wasn’t able to travel. We made it out to visit last fall, and, thankfully, Grandma came out our way to visit frequently.
Even in her eighties, my grandma still had a very sharp mind. Her body had begun to fail her, though – carrying around extra weight puts such a strain on the body and heart. The last time we spoke, she told me that her back was hurting badly and that she was having trouble getting around. She seemed discouraged that her body wouldn’t do what she wanted it to anymore. She was determined to make it to 86 years old this spring, however, she also feared putting a burden on others as her body deteriorated. She was adamant that she would not force her children to take care of her, and had entertained the idea of moving to a care facility.
We’d talked about recording grandma telling the crazy stories from when her kids were younger, helping her write memoirs, or even writing down some of her favorite recipes to pass down in our family. I don’t think we ever did any of those things. I wish we’d gone out to visit more often. I wish I’d called more. I wish C could have had a few more years with grandma, so she would remember her. All the wishing in the world won’t change things now, though. It seems we never, ever have enough time, so we should make the most of it.