I’ll begin this post by telling you that a few days ago I lost my last surviving grandmother. But more importantly, my mother lost a mother, and my grandfather lost a wife and life partner. Her passing is still very fresh in the hearts of our family, and for some of us I don’t believe the true impact of this loss has been felt yet. She had been sick for some time so her death was not unexpected, but no matter how expected it may have been, death never truly is.
For a while now I’d already steeled myself to accepting the fact that she would not be with us for much longer, all while cherishing what few moments I was able to spend with her. However, the news of her passing affected me in a way that I can’t quite explain. It was a mixture of sadness, relief, acceptance, and nostalgia all rolled into one. The reality is, I didn’t know how I should have felt in that moment. Ever since the death of my father I’ve gotten so used to preparing for loss that now I find myself in a place of emotional uncertainty when it happens. I mean, what’s the proper reaction? What’s the correct emotion? How do you begin to truly mourn the loss of someone that you love? I’ve been playing these mental gymnastics for so long now that it feels like I’m working off muscle memory and just going through the motions. At times I feel like a fraud, emotionally, and that is a personal battle that I will fight over time.
All that said, my reason for writing this is because the death of my grandmother made me realize something that we too often forget until it’s too late: Time is fleeting, life is short, and once they’re gone you will NEVER get them back. So often death makes us realize the mistakes we’ve made in the life of someone we loved and lost. We start thinking about the extra phone call we didn’t make, the “I love you” that wasn’t said, that hug we just missed out on, or the argument that should’ve never happened. But death is a funny thing because it also reminds us of the special moments we shared, and that’s quite possibly the nostalgia I felt. You think about the laughs, the warmth, the feeling of being loved, and then it all seems to balance itself out in some strange way that can only be explained as the universe finding a way to balance your emotional scales. However, in the end, what truly impacts us is what side of those scales we decide to focus on the most. Will you choose to focus on what you should or shouldn’t have done? Or will you choose to reminisce on the good times, and the bad? And though it may be difficult, perspective matters. So, learn to accept what has already happened because the past cannot be re-written no matter how much we may wish it. Cherish every memory, every experience (good or bad), because those are what made your connection to the one you lost so special. It’s why you miss them, why you smile or shed tears when you think about them. It’s why you will never forget them and why they will live forever.
“Those we love never truly leave us. There are things that death cannot touch.” – Jack Thorne
Rest in Paradise, Melanie Camille. We love you.