It’s been four years, but it hasn’t gotten any easier. Four long years since I’ve heard your laugh, gotten one of your warm hugs, and had one of those chocolate cookies you used to keep in the refrigerator. I used to think it was so weird you kept them there, but you were right–they really are better that way. It’s the little things like that I miss most.
I miss you so much. They say it gets easier with time, and I suppose it does, but time hasn’t yet fully healed these wounds. Sometimes I bleed. And sometimes you’ll pop into my head for no reason at all. Maybe that’s your spirit’s way of reaching out–of trying to connect with me. And I’ll think back to that awful night when we lost you, and the pain becomes real all over again. The tears flow. I look up. I miss you, I whisper. I’d give anything to see you again, even for just a little while.
A few weeks ago, I dreamt about you. It wasn’t much of a dream–I was back visiting Castle Gardens. Why? I don’t know. Probably because that’s where you spent the last four years of your life and where some of my last memories with you were made. I should be grateful we even had your last four years, since we almost lost you twice before. I rounded the corner and there you were, as if nothing had changed. This can’t be real, I thought. It felt too real. We didn’t say anything–just hugged. Cried a little. Mourning the time we’ve been deprived of these past four years. And then I woke up, my pillowcase wetted with tears and the sensation of your warm embrace still with me. Maybe it was real.
My birthday is in three days. I’m turning twenty-two–can you believe it? I was only seventeen when you left us. You were right. Time really does fly. But it’s going to be hard for me. For seventeen years, you called me on my birthday. I got to hear your voice. Hear your love. And for four years, I’ve missed that. I’m left only to imagine what you would be saying if you were still here. You’d probably ask about school. How my friends were doing. Where I’m going for dinner tonight. You’d tell me you love me and miss me.
And I know those words to be true. Wherever you are now–in heaven, or out there somewhere in this great Universe of ours–I know you still love me, and I know you miss me as much as I miss you. (You’ll never admit it, but I know I was your favorite.) You miss our talks about life. About how we both hate autumn because it represents death. About how we both really hate driving. You miss how we’d watch The Price is Right when I came to visit–I know the only reason we watched it is because you loved Bob Barker. But I didn’t mind. And how we’d laugh at the naiveté of some of the contestants. You miss being able to make ridiculous jokes and laugh ourselves to tears.
It has gotten better these last four years. I remember when it’d only been a year since we lost you–how inconsolable I’d be. An absolute mess. Those nights when I’d look up to the sky and cry until my tear ducts said, “No more.” But that doesn’t mean the pain is gone. That doesn’t mean I won’t shed a few tears on Monday. Waiting for a phone call I know will never come.
I hope that some day, somehow, we’ll be reunited at last. That I’ll get to give you the biggest hug ever, cry, and tell you how much I’ve missed you. That I’ll get to catch you up on life after you were gone.
But until then, life goes on. I cling to these tear-stained memories and make do with what my mind remembers–it’s the best I can do.
I know you’re out there somewhere, and I hope I make you proud.
Love you, Grandma.