I Wish You Were Here, Grandma

It’s been a while since we lost you. I try not to be overly sentimental and think about it too often, mostly because you being gone breaks me every time. You weren’t just a grandma to me and you know that. I feel like it isn’t fair that you’ve gone so quickly, even though you lived to be a grandma – and almost a great-grandma.

To me, you were much more. The last few years we’ve spent living together, and then me visiting once I moved to Filip’s house, were the best years of our relationship. You weren’t a grandma, really – it never felt that way. I’ve always seen you more like a second mother that filled my attachment void, formed due to your daughter living so far away. I think that’s a story for another day, though.

I need you all the time. Some days, more than the other ones.

I really needed you today. This week. This month.

I know you’d be here regardless of possibly catching the flu yourself. If anyone knows how hard it is to work all the time around infants, it’s you. I would have gotten some sleep today, and yesterday, and the day before that – while you’d be playing with Viktor.

Oh, how much he’d love you.

Your cheerful spirit and kind personality would brighten my day every time I’d visit. I’m sure he’d feel the same way. You’d play peek-a-boo, carry him around, show him how you cooked your favorite meals. He’d love listening to your voice. It was wise, soothing and friendly, all at the same time. I miss it.

I know you’d be helping me during the day, looking after him, so I can finally pass that last exam and get my degree. I used to tell you everything about university. You knew all my teachers’ names, all the cool chemicals I learned about. I’m not sure if you loved listening to my stories, but it sure felt like it. I felt so, so loved. Cared for. I miss that.

I’ll get my degree, though. I’m doing it for you, you know that, right? All those hours talking about my exams couldn’t have been for nothing. And when I finally stand in front of the crowd to present my final paper for the last time, I’ll save one spot just for you. I know you wouldn’t miss it for the world. You’d probably be the only one from our family to attend, though. To others, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, or an event worth going to. It breaks my heart, but I’ve learned to cope and not expect too much. I know you’d be there if you could, and that’s enough for me.

I know you would have been at our wedding, too. Again, probably the only one in my family. Maybe you’d get grandpa to come, too. I wish he did. I had no one from our family at the reception, no one when I said “yes”. Our wedding pictures are an awkward thing to look at, regardless of how beautiful everything was and how happy it made me. You were missing, and it’s the only thing that matters.

Having you in my life meant something for other people, too. I was less vulnerable. I didn’t feel picked on and bullied by vultures just because they think they’re all I’ll ever have. To them, I’ve lost everything, and now I belong to them. I remember what it was like when you were still around. No one was mean to me. No one tried to mess with me. They either knew you, or knew of you. I wasn’t the world’s orphan. Now I understand why it was different back then and how you protected me, not even knowingly. I miss that.

I’d love to still be able to tell you things. Stuff you’re experienced at, like kids, and the other ones you may not know much about. Like biochemistry. I don’t know much about it either, but I love talking about what I understand.

A few months ago, Lion King: The Movie came out. I cried so hard when I listened to the intro song, The Circle Of Life. Not because of some obvious reason to others, where some song about imminent death reminds me of you. I know you’d watch that movie with me. Do you remember the countless times we’ve seen that cartoon together? Of course you do. You loved it. Or at least you always looked like you loved it, which is enough for me. You created a memory that I carried into my adult life and that will remain with me until the day I die.

Sometimes, I play Disney movies playlist for Viktor when we wake up. There’s this Ultimate Disney Song Playlist on YouTube, and strangely enough, Circle of Life is always the first song. I can’t tell you how many times I cried into my bowl of cereal, trying to hide tears from (very confused) Viktor so he doesn’t see how sad I am.

He’ll know how much I miss you, though. You live through me and you will live through him.

I’ll tell him all our stories.

The ones about how you’d take me to the market on a Saturday morning, and then we’d sit in the park eating some random pastry and feeding the pigeons (even though we had plenty at home).

I’ll tell him how you knew how to make the best jam in the world, even though I’m not a fan. The whole street would smell wonderful as you cooked the fruit in your summer kitchen.

He’ll know how much respect people at your workplace had for you, even after you retired. For years, whenever I’d recognize someone from the student canteen and say “hello!” while waiting in line, I’d get a free meal just because the cashier knew you. I saved a whole lot of money that way.

I’ll explain to him how important you were to me.

What he probably won’t understand is why I’m afraid to go to your grave, even today. That’s a mystery even for me.

I think I’m afraid I’ll break down.

It will remind me of your last days at the hospital, when you looked very little like your old self.

The only thing that brought a smile on your face is when I told you I’m pregnant. You were the first one to find out.

To this day, I’m grateful you passed before we lost the baby. I don’t know how I would bring myself to tell you.

Who am I kidding? Of course I’d tell you. I would have you by my side. You’d be there for days after the surgery, when I couldn’t even get out of bed (I didn’t want to, really). I’d find some comfort in that. You have no idea what it was like to lay in bed for weeks, without anyone dropping by to say hello. I think it was a bit of a tough subject for everyone else to talk about… so I get it. I needed people, though, regardless.

And then after that, you’d be there while I was pregnant with Viktor. I know I could count on you to make some of my favorite meals, at least sometimes, when I craved them. I never knew how to cook them like you did.

I feel like there’s so much left unsaid. I still have so many questions that were left unanswered. How will I ever find out how to make some horrible stains go away? When and how will I ever learn to cook the way you did?

I had all the time in the world, at least it felt like it. So I talked about myself, all the time, not even thinking about what would happen when you leave this world. It seemed so far away. But it wasn’t.

I regret not asking you more questions, finding out what it was like when you were younger. I feel unprepared for this big journey, and I know you took some answers to my questions to your grave.

It’s too late now. But I hope you know I’m sorry.

I love you. I miss you so much.

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4 thoughts on “I Wish You Were Here, Grandma

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