My Grandma died when I was in high school. I remember finding out. I remember my mom receiving the telephone call and before she even said it I knew. I remember dropping to the kitchen floor and sobbing. I remember my best friend picking me up and taking me to the ocean. I remember the sinking, heavy feeling in my heart that stuck around for weeks, months, that sits with me still.
The day before my grandma died she had called my mom and asked if I would teach her how to use an instant messenger so that she could talk to us. I didn't have time. I don't remember what I did that day.
I remember the memorial service. A whole church filled to the brim with people I didn't recognize. I remember my cousins, who are all much younger than I am, running around, knowing, but not understanding what had happened. That was the last time my family was all together.
I remember sitting in my french final and collapsing into tears the next week. My teacher came over to me and put her hand on my shoulder. There was nothing else to be done.
I miss my Grandma Joy tremendously, now, years later whenever I remember the times she wasn't there. She wasn't there when I graduated high school, wearing a smile from ear to ear. She wasn't there when I went off to college, packing all of my belongings into my parent's Honda Pilot. She wasn't there when I graduated college, walking into a big stadium and looking frantically around for my mom and dad. She wasn't there on the first day of my first job, nervous and excited at the same time.
She won't be there when I get married, laughing, and playing ukulele. She won't be there when my kids are born, hugging and kissing them and telling them stories that they need to hear.
I miss my Grandma because she was the best person in the whole world. She smiled bigger, laughed louder, loved harder, and cared deeper than anyone. There was no person on the globe for whom she didn't have compassion. There was nothing that she didn't believe I could do.
I miss my Grandma in selfish ways. I miss the lemonade that she made me on hot summer days when we would come back from the beach. I miss sitting on her couch and watching a DVD she had just got in the mail from Netflix. I miss her Christmas cards which she carefully designed on her computer, which she took classes for at the Apple store on a regular basis. I miss the shower at her house, where I would push beach sand down the drain. I miss the dinners she used to make and the presents she used to give and I miss her big feet and short hair and ruby red lipstick. I miss driving around with her in her red mustang convertible. I miss getting hot chocolate at the harbor. I miss newly knit sweaters. I miss her garden and all it's color and wonder and smells and nourishment. I miss her.
I miss her when I go camping and I miss her at the beach. I miss her when I work on a math problem that I just can't figure out. I miss her at Thanksgiving when I make mashed potatoes I won't eat. I miss her when I see my mom or my Aunts smile, because their smile is just like hers.
She was a math teacher that taught kids, and then their children years later. You couldn't go anywhere without running into someone who knew her, even hundreds of miles away from the town where she had lived her adult life. She would stop and wave her impossibly long arms and shout their name and they would smile and they would talk about... everything, their parents, their pets, their hobbies. And she always remembered.
I miss my Grandma more and I miss my Grandma less every year. I miss her more because I need her. I need her to know that I made it, I'm doing something right, I am loving people well. I miss her more because I need her to know I'm struggling, and sometimes it's really hard and I am still so angry about things that shouldn't matter. I miss her more because even now, all these years later, I can't believe that she's not just a phone call away. I miss her more because as I grow older I come to realize what a rare and beautiful person she was. I miss her more because I'm tired of being kind and I want her to tell me that kindness isn't earned, it's given freely. I miss her more because I don't know who I am but I want to be like her but sometimes it's hard to remember.
I miss her less because time passes, and you stop picking up the phone and thinking you'll give her a call. I miss her less because it is too hard to miss someone this much. I miss her less because sometimes missing is like picking at a wound and all it does is hurt.
I miss her, my Grandma. The world isn't the same without her. Her memory is so much joy and love. Her memory is good food and laughter and silly songs. Her memory is salt water and sunsets and sails taut in the wind. Her memory is a warm hug and cold glass of lemonade. Her memory is birds of paradise and campfire smoke.
I miss you.