On Loss and Feeling Lost

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If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I’m really big on relationships- all kinds.  The most important relationships are family -whether blood-related or chosen- and family relationships can be. . . .complicated.  I wasn’t planning to get this deep so soon on my blog, but here it is.  It happened.

On Monday, my granny passed away.

I knew it was a possibility, but I wasn’t expecting it.  She’d been in nursing homes and residential care homes for awhile now.  Because of limited mobility she needed round-the-clock physical care.  However, as a retired school teacher, her mind was still as sharp as a whip.  I would go and visit her and take my son, too.  I have no pictures, because I live in the moment and hardly ever think to document my every waking moment with photos.  I wish I had.  I nor my son will have any visuals to look back on and remember our time with her.  But we do have memories.

Memories of going to sit with her and just keep her company for an hour or two.  She would send me to get her food and/or snacks because she didn’t like what the nurses prepared for lunch or dinner.

I have memories of going to visit her when she still lived independently.  I would drive an hour to go see her and do her hair. She would always say, “I like your hair.  I want mine like that.  Can you make it look like yours?”  Her hair was thinning, but I’d experiment with twistouts using Carol’s Daughter (her favorite) products or flexirods to get her the natural curly look she wanted.

I have a few unpleasant memories as well. I choose not to talk about those today.  What I do want to address is how all this has affected me in the hopes that it moves someone else, helps someone on their healing journey, or provide clarity for someone in their own familial relationship(s).

Despite the memories I shared above, my granny and I were not close.  Not by a long shot.  The story isn’t unique.  This granny is my dad’s mom, and I didn’t grow up with them in my life.  It wasn’t until I moved to Texas six years ago that I began cultivating a relationship with her.  I’d only known her for a few years, and all my visits up until that point were dutiful.  Once I moved closer and saw that age was taking its toll (plus I’d done some maturing), I decided to begin genuinely building a connection with her.  And I did just that.  I put 28 years of history (as much of it as I could) behind me, because family matters.  And although she is my blood kin, I still had to choose her.

And I did.  My visits were less dutiful, but we all know relationships take work, some more than others.  I knew I would have to actively and intentionally confront and overcome my apathy and lack of urgency where this relationship was concerned.  The bond we formed was rewarding.  Nevertheless, even after six years, I was keenly aware of the effort it took on my part to maintain.  Add to that my busy life and the distance (always at least 40 minutes drive).  It’s been months since I’ve seen her.  So when I saw my brother’s number flashing on my screen after 9 p.m., I knew.

Even so, hearing those words hit me hard.  I’d planned to visit her this weekend.  Now, I’ll never get another opportunity to see her alive, and it hurts.  Logically, there’s this (still) disconnected part of me that feels bad that I hadn’t gotten around to a visit before she passed.  Kind of like that old classmate you kept meaning to phone or send an email to.  Emotionally, I’m hurt.  She was still my granny and I chose her.  Chose to get as close as I did.  I’m not sure what to do with these feelings or where to place them.  While I KNOW I would go to visit her sooner if given another chance, I still can’t say that it would be an urgent matter for me.  And that hurts, too.  I didn’t choose the history (or lack thereof) I have with my granny any more than I could choose the effect it’s had on me.  What I always had a choice in was my own actions.  I held myself to that.  I just wonder if I did the best I could.