“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”
—Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher
It’s Monday and already I wish the entire week to be over with.
I’m having a slight depressive episode because I will most likely have to find a job because being an author isn’t paying me yet and I’m going to be 35 tomorrow.
But what affects me the most the anniversary of my grandmother’s death. My grandmother, Flora Lawrence, passed away in the St. John’s Hospice on May 25, 2004—the day after my birthday. She was 100. The moment she left this Earth is the day I lost one of the most important people in my life. I have grown up believing her to be immortal—that she and I will be in each other’s lives until the days I myself would draw my last breath. So her passing has shocked me and, even after all these years, I’ve not fully recovered.
I don’t think anyone would quite honestly.
Since then, though, my birthday has not felt the same to me. In fact, I don’t know how to feel about it, so I do what everyone else does. On one hand, I’m alive another year and hope to make the best of it. But on the other, I’m here without my grandmother and she has been one of the most important people in my life. I try to normalize it with a small dinner party and a possible movie, but I often feel strange doing it to a certain extent simply because she isn’t here.
That and the fact that the family dynamics associated with my grandmother’s hospice stay has yet to be resolved. I’m not going to go into detail about everything that has occurred prior to her passing, but for years I’ve felt as if my grandmother’s memory has been dishonored due to unresolved generational trauma.
As depressed as I am right now as I write this, Readers, I want to do everything I can to remember my grandmother the way I’ve always seen her: the only adult in my family who has accepted me as I am—flare jeans and all. When alive, she has seen someone who has hurt, has been hurt, but also a kid who has tried. She has seen a granddaughter exercising to Taebo tapes in hopes to shred unwanted pounds to catch the eyes of superficial men. She has seen me cry tears of depression and uncage bouts of laughter so loud that the boom of my voice sometimes startles her.
I recall her wanting to watch the six o’clock news in peace, but never could because Joyce and I would talk through the reporting. I’ve seen her drink a can of her favorite beer while watching TV, lounging in her recliner—the one she also slept in—before she drifts off to dream. I watch her listen to her police scanner because she always wants to know what is going on in Springfield, IL, in the city she has been born and raised in. I remember the storyteller, the one who has told me about the extensive kitchen work that would eventually cause her fingers to stiffen with arthritis.
I remember the helpings of Bisquick pancakes, Malt-O-Meal and me wondering why I can never make it the way Grandma does. To this day, no one can make it creamy like she could. No one can make me feel the way she did when she said she loved me every night before I disappeared into my room to sleep.
Though she left the Earth plane, I know my grandmother is always with me in spirit. I feel and see with my mind’s eye on a regular basis as she is one of my many spirit guides. Granted, she has been nowhere near perfect, but I feel that she deserves the respect and honor for giving so much of herself to be of service to others—including the foster children she has raised and the grandchildren who still love her. Writing this passage is my way of doing so.
Thank you for reading.