“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” -Flavia Weedn
July 3rd just can’t come and go on any year without thoughts of one of my favorite people in the world. Today would have been Gramma Donna’s 86th birthday, and I selfishly wish we could have celebrated it together.
I’ve thought a lot lately about how my days and plans might be different if Gramma were still with us–trips to Chicago to visit with the kiddos, phone calls at rest time in the afternoon so Henry could say hello and Gramma and I could catch up a while. When I drive somewhere at a distance, I miss being able to dial her number, still able to hear her “Hello?” on the other end of the line.
It’s hard for me that these babies of ours will never know her. Henry knows of her, surely, and he’s seen photos of himself with her from when he was very small. But Eloise? She and the baby I’m growing now will never know the lady who could get right to the very closest parts of my heart, and I hate that. I really do. As much as Gramma was one of my best friends my whole life, she was amazing with babies, and I would have loved for her to snuggle ours for so much longer.
We are fortunate to have had so many years with the beauty who ushered our family through everything with grace. She was the hostess with the mostest, whether we gathered as a whole family, or even if it was just me walking through the door. She loved Jason. She treasured Henry for the time she had. I’m so thankful she could know my boys and that I could share that part of my life with her. But there are so many good bits that we’ve had to leave out…
I am a different wife, mother and friend than I was the day that Gramma died. A lot has changed. I hope that she would know me now and be proud of the woman I’m growing into–I still run things through a WWGT (what would Gramma think) filter often, which just means to me that she was every bit as special to my heart as she seemed for all of those years.
Gramma pops up in places from time to time and I don’t mind a bit: A DVD from my Hope chest that Henry found not long ago, recording Christmas from when I was six and Gramma was wearing my favorite blouse and polyester pants. Even then, I was snuggled close to her on the couch whenever I had the chance. She just knew me and she knew my heart, and I think I sensed that way deep down from when I was very small. A gold chain, strung around my neck every single day. Eloise asked last week if I ever take it off, but I don’t. I like it there, where a little part of Gramma still feels close and tangible. Towels in the linen closet, some still unfolded, from her closet at home. They still smell like her and look like her, memories of sleepovers at her house and baths in the pink bathtub when I was young still trailing along with them.
Everything about Gramma was pure to me. My earliest memories have her in them. My greatest moments growing up do, too. Birthdays, musicals, school events, holidays, award ceremonies, recitals. She’d not miss a one.
There is so much to be said for having had someone in my life who was like a parent to me, but removed from a parental role. In that way, she could always be my confidant, a home away from home, a soft place to land. Today on her birthday and on so many other days, too, I miss her deeply, with an ache and a void that only the hope of Heaven can fill. Time does soften the space left behind, it’s true. But nothing can quite fill it. My heart tells me that’s a good thing; she was one of a kind in my life. Still, I hated losing her, and I hate that she’s gone. It really won’t ever be the same.
For all of the good and the joy and the parts of me she represents, I am thankful and changed. And I couldn’t ask for anything more than that from all those years of loving someone so wonderfully good.
Happy Birthday, sweet Gramma lady,