I lost my grandmother over the holidays. She passed away Christmas Eve.
My grandmother lived in Manhattan in a small apartment in the Lower East Side. This past summer, she came to Canada as she often did, a long drive across the border for a 94-year-old woman. My uncle and aunts drove with her to visit my mom in Montreal first, then they came to Toronto to see me and the rest of the family. That was July. I didn’t know it then, but it would be the last time I saw Grandma alive.
I agonized over writing this post. The holidays are supposed to be a good time—a union of family and friends. Fun and happy moments, with nothing worse than a bit of melancholy for another year passed, but what do you do when someone dies at this time? Holidays are not supposed to include death … but death is never convenient. You have to deal with it when it happens.
My grandmother’s death came suddenly. Even at 94, it was unexpected. I thought she could live forever. She had that aura of invincibility. Here she was at her 89th birthday party laughing with my mom.
As an author who creates fictional stories, I debated whether I should write a post about my grandmother’s passing.
And how could I do it without sounding maudlin? Especially at this time of year.
You see, each December since starting this blog, I’ve written a holiday message to end the year. The messages have been about reflection, happiness, and looking ahead. I’ve often included humor as part of the festive season. I wanted this post to be something along the same lines, but I couldn’t drum up the enthusiasm to write it that way.
I just couldn’t.
I had to reflect on the life of a woman who meant a great deal to me, and it would be dishonest to write a holiday message without acknowledging the loss. Another year is coming to an end, but an important life has already ended. My grandmother deserved her time with me here.
Those who know me well understand I’m a private person. I rarely make announcements about my personal life. I share private matters one-on-one using more traditional means—telephone and email. My declarations via public forums such as Twitter and Facebook are mainly for my writing news. As much as I like social media, I consider it somewhat of a mirage.
Are people always as happy as they appear in their pictures?
The answer is obviously “no.”
With this post, my main purpose is to honor my grandmother, to let people know how lovely she was. What she lacked in physical stature, she made up for in toughness of mind and spirit. She was fiercely independent and got her way without ever raising her voice. Her quiet strength spoke to the many qualities I admired about her, particularly her thoughtfulness and grace. She made the world a better place, and she was a cool woman in every sense of the word.
I also want to thank everyone for their outpouring of support and comforting words of condolences. I’m extremely grateful for the kindness of friends, both virtual and in real life. Though I feel a sad void right now, I know how fortunate I am to have had my grandmother in my life for so long. Many of my friends no longer have parents, let alone grandparents. The reality is Grandma influenced me well into adulthood, and I will forever cherish the precious years I had with her. Her legacy lives on in the small things, which added up to her huge appetite for life.
As she was my last surviving grandparent, her passing brings me closer to my own mortality, but I am not afraid.
I never saw Grandma afraid of anything.
* * *
Some final words for the readers of this blog …
I so appreciate the personal notes, comments, follows, shares, likes, emails, and messages you’ve sent over the years. With your kindness, you’ve given me the best gift for the holidays during a difficult time.
As I close my blog for another year, I am grateful that social media has connected us. We are here together, and that is something worth celebrating.
Wishing love, health, and happiness for you and your families. May 2016 be unforgettable in the best of ways,
~ eden ♥