There were the long hospital visits, the phone calls from worried family members. There was the need for some sort of understanding of it all. There was the waiting, the crying and the wonder: Would we ever be the same without the woman who was there for us all?
In a dramatic sort of way, I like to think of grandmothers as the apple pies of life. They’re sweet and everyone loves them, but once they’re gone, there’s a sudden void left that can’t be filled with anything else.
When I was younger, I remember thinking I’d miss the days when my grandmother would be present at any given moment.
I knew I’d regret not talking to her enough and hate myself for not taking advantage of the fact that she was so close to where I lived. Even now, I often mentally scold my younger self.
I was 15, an age where I was getting old enough to understand the value of people and the wonderful joys they brought into my life. My grandmother was one of those people.
There wasn’t anyone or anything she didn’t like, and she was always doing things for the good of others. I can’t remember a time when she went out of the way for herself. I think she believed that doing so would take the charm out of her persona.
My grandmother’s home was the center of every social event held in my family. Holidays, weekends and lazy days were spent in the company of her and my extended family and friends.
Years later, I discovered the problem with my family bond: We relied on my grandmother to bring us all together.
I realize now this was a wonderful, yet unfortunate thing that went on within my family. It just made our connection with each other seem somewhat artificial after she was gone.
As children, my cousins and I weren’t close. We had fun when we saw each other at family functions, but we never had a great alliance with one another. Our parents rarely had each other over, and it was weird when we saw them in public or outside of my grandmother’s house.
I guess we didn’t make the effort to see each other at any other time because we waited for her to bring us together.
All in all, my aunts and uncles were just people I knew had grown up with my parents. It didn’t matter how often I saw them or whether they’d be there for me or not.
After she was gone, the next few months made us seem to forget each other. There was nowhere to go for family events and no one to give us harsh, but beneficial life advice.
When we had no one but ourselves, it hit us: Why should we spend time alone grieving when we have each other to be with?
Of course, it was exhausting to attempt to form a sort of new friendship with my extended family. It was almost as if we were trying to get to know one another from the start.
Now, I laugh because my friendships with my cousins come so naturally. A week doesn’t go by without me having seen or spoken to them.
Some would tell you that bad days are blurry. The day my grandmother died, it was anything but that. I remember everything so vividly that it still haunts me at night when my thoughts overwhelm me.
There were so many people and so many tears and regrets. Now, my family and I had found common ground; suddenly, we had no one to comfort but each other.
Who would understand the pain of our loss better than us? I thought this was because my grandmother made us into one, and now it was our turn to continue the relationship she tried so hard to create between us.
It’s funny because during the next few months it only got easier and easier. We realized we needed each other.
We couldn’t be bonded together by the warmness of my grandmother, so maybe we needed to do something to strengthen our ties with one another.
There were horrible things that came out of my grandmother’s death; emptiness, sorrow and grief was just the beginning of my heartache. The only good thing to come out of this ordeal was our families coming together. It only made sense to lean on each other in our time of need.
Without the loss of my grandmother, I could have lost family just as important. The only reason we have brought ourselves together this way was because she taught us the everlasting value of friendship, love and commitment.
She made friends with everyone, and everyone made friends with her. I think that’s when we began realizing the importance of her warmth and her ambitious personality, and just how her legacy only helped us to become better versions of ourselves.