This morning hurts. I can feel it already even though it’s only 8AM. It hurts like yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. I’m not really sure how to begin explaining it because it’s highly possible that no one will relate. But maybe some of you will. I have been trying to find the words for what I’m feeling for weeks now… And again, I’ve fallen victim to the train of thought “I should write about that…Make time to write about that…You can write about that tomorrow…” and then I don’t. It just gets added to my brain’s ever-growing pile of Post-It notes. Aside from being distracted, I know there’s a part of me that didn’t want to write this blog because I’m weary of giving a public voice to the crippling fear inside my head. I don’t want to jinx anything. I don’t want God to find me ungrateful. I don’t want anyone to find me ungrateful. I’m so grateful sometimes it feels like it’s too much “gratitude” and my chest might literally explode…maybe that’s my problem.
My Granny is 90 years old today.
Yes, you read that correctly…90.
I am completely blown away with amazement and adoration for this human, who clearly, has stood the test of time and is still looking as beautiful as ever.
Anyone who knows me knows of this unwavering love I have. It’s a love I make quite public, whether it’s on social media/up on a stage/hanging out with friends/pouncing on her & annoying her with compliments every chance I get. People see it and think, “How sweet, she’s so close to her Grandma.” I wish it was as black & white as that. But I know better. God definitely knows better. It’s a love that has without a doubt saved me from myself on more than a few occasions throughout my short lifetime. A love that was so deep-rooted inside of me that even in my lowest of times (and they were low indeed), I was reminded that even in all the bad, I had a soul that was good… I still wanted to see, hold the hand of, hear the voice of, take care of my G and make her proud.
When I think of “the pillars” in my world, God and my Granny. I established a relationship with the Lord by going to church with my Grandma, starting around the time I was in 5th grade. And in turn, God has heard me pray/sob/plead/rejoice over her every single day since. She is without a doubt my 1st and most important prayer request. Keep her safe. Keep her healthy. Keep her happy. Let her know You are there so she won’t be lonely.
This past Saturday (August 26th), we threw my Granny a surprise birthday party. We reserved a little banquet room at a restaurant not far from her house. The party fell on my parents’ 34th wedding anniversary, so the “lie” to get Granny to attend was that my Dad was throwing my Mom a surprise anniversary party. My sister and I put in the time making sure the decorations were perfect. Photo collages, big balloons, enlarging and framing photos that were nearly 70 years old, making table centerpieces that featured photos of Granny from a woman in her early 20’s to this past Easter Sunday. Family, friends, neighbors all gathered to celebrate the life of this woman. She was certainly surprised. Then overwhelmed. Then a little nervous. Then realized that she had no choice but to be the center of everyone’s attention so she went along with it, ha. We showed her all the pictures we’d “borrowed” from her old photo albums and copied to include in collages and centerpieces. She laughed as she pointed out who/what/when/where/what they had for lunch that day with all the photos we’d acquired.
Seeing my Grandma young, freshly moved to Detroit and living in a boarding house with her exciting girlfriends…posing with her brothers while wearing a headscarf, youthful and playful and proud to be their sister…her and my Grandpa their first handful of years as a married couple…with my Dad and my Aunt Kathy as young kids, big glasses, big hair, and always at least one dog in the photo…
My Grandma was someone and something other than my Grandma in her lifetime. The proof of this moved me in ways I can’t adequately describe. It’s beautiful.
I was equally fascinated as I was saddened. Sad, that my Grandma has lived alone for the past 25 years on that very same property as these old photos were taken. Or that she doesn’t see and laugh with her girlfriends like she used to. Or that she only has one remaining brother now, her youngest brother, my Great Uncle Johnny down in Tennessee. Or that they took away her license this past spring, so loneliness feels more isolating…Because as much as these photos document what a big life she’s had, it also serves a reminder that “the good ol’ days” are a thing of the past.
I knew at a very young age that I was called to be my Granny’s best friend after my Grandpa tragically passed. I’d volunteer myself every Sunday to attend church with her, sit beside her in the back pew and hold her hand, spend the day with her, invite her to every single dance recital/choir concert/cheerleading event/musical, etc. (And she was at every single one of them, with a bouquet of flowers.) When I moved away to Nashville, I made a point to call her twice a week and never go more than 2 months without seeing her. I volunteer to fly her or drive her to Nashville and transport her 90 minutes to Hohenwald to see her family. I don’t list these things for a pat on the back, I really don’t. I summarize my closeness to my Grandma because it was something that was so natural, so easy, and so understood. And honestly, it might be one of the ONLY concrete things I’ve ever understood in my life thus far.
She was and still is my constant…my unconditional. I went through some tough tough shit as a kid. I then willingly allowed myself to go through some shit as an adult. And with every fracture to my heart, there was my G…even if she didn’t have all the facts, she didn’t need them because she always came through, no questions asked. She picked up the phone. And unbeknownst to her, she picked up my pieces.
A few weeks ago, I started trying to pray through my fears. Every time I’d get choked up, I’d ask God, “Please allow gratitude to overpower grief.” And it would help calm me down. For this last week, I’ve continued to pray the same thing but alas… tears. Every day. And what am I grieving? She’s still here. Yes, she’s slower, she’s sorer, she’s sadder…but she’s still funny, feisty, grumpy, and loves tappin her toes and snappin her fingers to some Josh Turner all day, errryday. I looked up the term “anticipatory grief” and I hate it’s definition. Maybe I hate it because it sounds like bullshit. Or maybe the thought of waking up to a world where she’s not here really is something to fear with every fiber of my being.
They say to cherish your loved ones. To let them know how you feel and how much they mean to you. To never take a day for granted.
So, what do you do when you’ve lived for someone making sure there was nothing left unsaid…or undone…or unloved…?
I don’t know the answer. Maybe that’s why it hurts.
So I guess I’ll just continue with what I DO know… Saying. Doing. Loving.