After a long hiatus in blogging, I am back to my regular routine. Several things took place over the last couple of weeks; I started a new class, flew home to record the Delicioso show, and experienced the death of my grandmother. Now that the dust has settled, it has finally hit me: my grandmother is gone. This past week was tough, but it sort of feels like everything happened in frames, almost like a movie. After the stress of flying home in a rush, planning the funeral arrangements, contacting relatives and friends, being there for family, and finally laying her to rest, I am emotionally drained. The reality has set in. I won't hear her voice anymore, or get to ask her how her day was, or what she made for dinner. She won't ask me over and over why I've been married for almost 10 years and I still haven't given her any great-grandchildren, or why I moved so far away.
I take solace in the fact that she lived a long life, and that I was able to say goodbye. I saw God's hand in how everything played out. I wasn't supposed to travel home this summer at all. I started taking a photography class and decided that I didn't want to miss any of the sessions, but out of the blue, one of the producers from the Delicioso show called me and asked me if I could make it over to Miami so that I could film a segment of the show. I was in Miami for a few days and was heading home first thing Friday morning. I decided to spend some time with my grandmother Thursday afternoon. I spent a good three hours with her in her house. Talking and laughing with her. She told me stories of my childhood, and some of her youth as she usually did. I picked up my keys to leave about after an hour of our visit, but for some reason, I decided to stay a while longer. I did this three times but decided to stay, thinking to myself that I didn't know when I’d see her again. Right before I left, she asked me to hang up her clothes, and I can't explain it, but I got this overwhelming feeling that moment would be the last time I'd be in her apartment. I remember looking at all her things with this feeling of sadness and nostalgia thinking to myself what a clean and organized “viejita” she was. I gave her a big hug and stroked her silver hair for the last time before heading home. I was even able to video tape her telling me a story. I spent the day with her for most of that Thursday. I received a call Friday evening from my brother saying that my grandmother had suffered a heart attack and was in critical condition. She died Saturday morning at dawn.
Most people would rationalize this loss and say things like "she was ninety-six, and lived a long life" or "at least she died quickly and didn't suffer". And although these things are true, it still doesn't take away the enormous hole that is in my heart now that she is gone. She is a big part of me, and I am so thankful for all the love she gave me throughout my life. My grandmother was an orphan when she was very little. She never met her dad and her mother died when she was four. She lost her daughter at the age of seven and her eldest son at the age of seventeen to sicknesses that in today's world are curable. Yet despite all of these things, she was able to move on. She demonstrated a resilience that was always astounding to me. Despite those tragedies, she was filled with life, laughter and love. She didn't have much to give in terms of wealth, but she gave what she could: herself. Everything she did, she did for my brothers, my dad and me. She was selfless and demonstrated unconditional and unwavering love for us and those around her.
I have so many lovely memories of her. She was truly always there for us, and for me. I depended on her in ways that I can't quite explain. I am a self-sufficient adult, who is stable, healthy and happy, yet I always looked at her through the eyes of a child. She kept my childhood alive through her stories and the memories she created. It feels as though a piece of my childhood is gone now that she is not with me. She influenced me in so many ways, from my love of the kitchen and cooking to always being loyal to my family above all, regardless of what may have happened. She was loved by so many, and it was not surprising to see how many people mourned her loss.
Although the wound is still fresh, I know in time it will get easier, but I also know I will never forget her- she will always be a part of me. I will never forget how she greeted me when I arrived from Dallas to visit her for this last time. She smiled and laughed when she saw me as tears of joy streamed down her face. What a reception that was. It is not every day that one receives a welcoming like that. But my grandmother was an exceptionally loving person who truly loved without restraint. Even though I try, I can't seem to get her off my mind. I miss her so much already and she's only been gone a few days. I look forward to the day when I can sit down next to her and give her a hug and she can ask me about those great-grandchildren again.