My grandma, Mim, passed away on March 22. My husband, of course, has been the one with the right words during this time. He told me a few days ago, "I keep feeling like I need to explain to people what it is you're going through. You didn't "just" lose your grandmother, you lost your MIM." He couldn't be more right.
Mim and I had a special bond from the start. She had 2 boys, so I was the little girl she'd always wanted to spoil and dress in cute clothes. She was one of my first playmates and best friends. I spent countless hours at her house when I was little, especially since we only lived a mile from her house until I turned 6. After we moved away, we still visited all the time on weekends and I spent at least a week (usually longer) at her house in the summertime. We had secrets that we promised never to share with anyone else, secrets I'm now the sole bearer of. We had a blast together, talking about everything from pop culture (she was an avid Hard Copy and National Enquirer fan) to boys to fashion to food.
She cheated at gin rummy. She was a brittle diabetic, she knew I worried about her blood sugar. I remember being about 15 and playing a long game with her, a game at which she was kicking my tail. Suddenly she screamed, "OH, help me! I need a Coke! " So I jumped up and grabbed one for her, then, once she'd had a few sips, we returned to our game. While I was up, she'd stacked the deck. She laughed and laughed. I swore never to play with her again. We played for hours the very next day.
When I was very young, she was my real-life imaginary friend, Sue. We went on grand adventure to the park, chased the ice cream man down the street, ate our weight in McDonald's hashbrowns and swam in her neighbor's pool. Mim was in her early 40s at the time and sported a bikini. I am 35 and think twice about leaving the house in capri pants.
She loved "flashy" clothes with bright colors, cute shoes and jewelry. Oh, my, did she love her jewelry. Whenever she'd see me, particularly during the college years when my wardrobe consisted of sweat pants and flannel shirts, she'd scoff and say, "Jennifer, you need to wear your jewelry." She reminded me many, many times over the years of the need to accessorize. When I turned 25, she gave me a gorgeous black diamond necklace that she'd received for her own 25th birthday. I wear it as much as I possibly can now.
She adored the color yellow and instilled in me the belief that every house should have at least one yellow room because it will make you happy. Above all material things, she adored butterflies and collected them throughout her life. We buried her in a brand new yellow sweater and a butterfly necklace I'd bought her at EPCOT Center on a high school dance team trip to Disney World.
She was in the hospital for a problem with her eyes when she had a massive heart attack. She spent her last few days in the Cardiac ICU, where she received excellent care and where we were treated like royalty. We were allowed to stay with her for as long as we wanted. Two days before she died, the last day I was able to be with her, I brought in my iPad and filled it with music she loved. We listened to Rod Stewart and Engelbert Humperdink. We reminisced, I told her stories about Dean, we laughed, we held hands, we looked each other in the eye. She gave me explicit instructions about a few things she wanted me and only me to take from her house. She went over exactly how she wanted her graveside service to go.
On Thursday, March 22 with my dad by her side, she quietly slipped away.
And now she's gone.
So much doesn't make sense. I've never lived in a world without her in it, so I've felt adrift over the past four weeks. I've picked up the phone to call her several times. I bought a card with butterflies on it today, just because it made me think of her.
I know I'll see her again someday, but it's so hard not having her here now. I'm pressing on because I have to. It's what you do. Life doesn't stop. Everything is heightened, though. Right after she died, I felt the lines between Heaven and Earth were very, very blurred, like I could almost reach out and touch the hereafter. Those lines are becoming more clear every day, though, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Loss is something I've certainly experienced before, but this one is hitting me harder than anything else ever has. I'm going to take it day to day, the only thing you can do, and think of her as often as I can.
And I'm painting my guest room yellow.