Today my cousin had my family over to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday. Grandma’s been up in heaven for five years now. It’s been a tradition for us to gather around her February 23rd birthday each year.
I have to admit this year Grandma’s birthday hit me harder than past years. I actually didn’t allow myself to fully think about it because I knew I just couldn’t deal with it. Having my own daughter now who I love so deeply makes the loss of my grandma sting more.
I wish Grandma were here to snuggle Emily, tell her how adorable she is, and squeeze her cheeks and say “I love you sweetheart.” I imagine she would tell me how gorgeous Emily is and giggle at all her cuteness. I would visit her just to see how happy she got to see Emily and me and I would feel loved and seen. I’d call her often and update her on everything. I’d say “Grandma- Emily said car today!” and she would say “Oh my God she is SO smart.” And then she’d call me back five minutes later to tell me how proud she is that I called her.
There’s something about losing all of my grandparents that makes me feel like my childhood is gone. My Grandma, Nonno and Nanna were all incredible forces in my life and now they aren’t here anymore. It feels like they were the connection to baby Jessica and now that they are gone that baby is also gone.
Yes, I do believe they watch over us. I do feel their presences often. And I feel blessed to have them around. It’s just not the same as having them physically here sharing these moments with.
I miss them so. My heart aches. I am so proud that they are where I came from.
I am scared. I am sad. I am mostly frightened for my daughter’s future in this country. But I refuse to respond to this with hate and blame. Then I would be part of the problem.
I will sit with this heaviness. I won’t deny it’s there. I’ll listen to it and transform it and channel it for good. I will use it to spread LOVE because that is what we all need.
We have to reflect back and take a look at ourselves.
It’s in the small stuff. It’s how I treat myself, how I treat each person I interact with throughout the day. It’s how I model respect and equality to my daughter. Its how I show up for my friends and family. It’s knowing deeply in my heart that we are all human beings with our own opinions, struggles and pathways. And even if we don’t see things the same way our experiences and feelings are all valid because we were born.
These things may feel small but they’re not. If we each honor and respect each other on a small scale then maybe we can honor and respect each other in our nation and throughout the world.
In the meantime I’m going to hug my daughter tighter today and take in all her awe and love of the world because I’m finding it hard to find that on my own right now.
My grandma used to always look at me, smile and laugh, grab my face with both hands and kiss my cheek. She would have these moments when she was suddenly SO proud. She did this with her daughters and grandchildren too. I remember thinking it was sweet but not quite understanding why she loved me so much.
Now every single day I look at Emmy, smile and laugh, grab her face with both hands and kiss her cheek. When I look at her the love I have is so consuming that I just have to. I get it now, grandma, I get it. ❤
My sister in law took this photo on 8.17.16 at my Nanna’s wake. My daughter and niece were communicating in their own way and it made me feel blissful. As soon as I saw this image what struck me was the amount of happiness I saw while also feeling the heaviness and sadness from losing my Nanna- someone I secretly hoped would live forever.
Life is never black and white. Within our hardest moments there is always beauty if we look deep enough. Beside my grief for my Nanna there sits a deep deep love for my daughter and niece. My sister in law captured it. I know Nanna was there in this moment watching and feeling love for all of us.
Every now and then I pick up the book Everyday Blessings: the inner work of mindful parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn. It feels like each sentence of the book is packed with wisdom. Whenever I pick it up, it tells me exactly what I need at that moment.
Last night I read a passage that I found to be so beautiful and true. It feels especially poignant in this time as I grieve the passing of my grandmother. It read:
“Children embody what is best in life. They live in the present moment. They are part of its exquisite bloom. They are pure potentiality, embodying vitality, emergence, renewal, and hope. They are purely what they are. And they share that vital nature with us and call it out of us as well, if we can listen carefully to the calling.” p. 92
My sweet Emmy Rae and her two little cousins have been such a healing force in this sad time- not only for me, but for many family members as well. While I grieve the death of my last grandparent and feel a heaviness in my heart, I simultaneously celebrate the life of this beautiful soul who brings me light.