Remember when I promised you the feelsiest of feely posts back at the beginning of the month? Well, the time has come, because today is a good day for telling this story.
My grandmother passed away this year.
I wrote it down.
It's been eight months now, and yeah, it took that long to write this post, because who would want to in the first place?
She was young, only seventy-four. She was filled with a vivacity and interest in life that many of her generation have long abandoned. She was a curious creature, and would drive us all nuts with her narrations as we drove by any readable sign.
"Oh, Sheffields Footwear, I wonder what shoes they have on sale right now... Oh, fresh picked apples from the Hoster Garden, we should stop to buy a bushel when we come back... For rent... Pattie's Breakfast special...," you get the picture. We all got the picture by the time she was done.
She was also born with a brain aneurysm none of us were aware of until March 16th, 2012, when it took her from us in a moment. By March 20th the breath had left her body, and her soul was most certainly free. I took great comfort in the song below. As the lyrics say "Fly to Jesus, and live," and I know without a moment of doubt that is exactly what she did. In her own words, "The plan of God is astounding," and I suppose it is. We were informed by her doctor that women born with aneurysms die in their 20's or early 30's. He never operated on a woman older than that. If she had passed on in that time frame not only would I never have known her, my mother wouldn't have been born.
Still, it's hard to find comfort in the Almighty's work when it disrupts your life so abruptly and in a way that feels so wrong.
She was supposed to be here for another twenty years at least. And she wanted to be. She looked no older than fifty the day we laid her body to rest. Everything about it felt wrong, and still does! I wasn't a granddaughter gracefully letting go of an older generation, prepared to step up and into a new role. Children are not on the horizon, my mother will not be the grandmother now, and I will not be the mother. I really believed she would watch me marry the love of my life, and that she would hold our children here on Earth.
As you can tell, she was a little bit of everything to me. She embellished my greatest pet-peeves as if it were her job. She cooked things and encouraged me to learn at her hands, even though I always ended up burning the water she set to boil (it is possible, people.) She sewed me dresses growing up and actively participated in my "Fancy Dancy" shows, donning hats and feather boa's and every manor of plastic jewelry. Speaking of jewelry, as I got older she loved adding to my growing collection, as well as those of my Madame Alexander Dolls and my perfumes. She's everywhere I look now, and I'm so grateful for the physical reminders of a truth I've always known, even in the darkest times:
She loved me.
She loves me.
She will always love me.
And I her.
And that's what I'm thankful for this year, even though I have plenty to feel ungrateful about, I'm choosing to believe Giggie, that God's plan is astounding, and that the greatest feast will be spread before us in Heaven, where we will celebrate joyously, hands uplifted in prayer, together. I'm most thankful this year for the wonderful mercy of Christ, that I am not lost to her forever, nor is she lost to me.
I write books because they untwist all the knotted places inside, and loosing "Giggie" (giG-Gee) is like a ball of unruly yarn inside. I didn't think it was possible to be without those that have always been there, and that can keep you pretty twisted up inside.
My latest WIP is rife with the same questioning spirit I've harbored since this spring. I've been thinking so much about time, and the infiniteness of it, and the finiteness of it. I've been questioning destiny, fate, design, coincidence and many others things that have all poured themselves into my latest novel.
I've struggled to write since she passed, but never once have I thought about laying it down. Though facing the terribly fragile "feels" of her passing seem, well, terribly fragile, I've been looking for a way to express them because of this:
That is a fortune from a fortune cookie I opened the day she died. Beside it is the skeleton of a hydrangea blossom that appeared literally out of thin air in my grandparent's backyard while I was in her barren garden, as well as her necklace, which had been lost at the hospital when she went into surgery, and appeared before me in the same way as the flower after I prayed for God to return it to me.
I grew up with big dreams, a love for the snowball-like blossoms Giggie and Poppa planted at their old house and that necklace at Giggie's throat.
Keep true to the dreams of your youth, the fortune reads; I will be with you always, they all promise.
So I'm writing something new, something I didn't expect, something really quite gorgeous, might I say, after nearly a year with many false manuscript starts, and many set backs, from Giggie's passing, to my health, the frustrations of querying, watching my mother loose her mother, and the loss of my childhood dog.
I really struggled to find something to be grateful for today that didn't sound trite, void, or meaningless, but when it comes down to it, there's only one thing to truly be grateful for, and that's the light in your darkest hour.
She will be mine, forever and always.
I love you more than I can put into words, Giggie.