It’s been over a year since I posted last… A whole lot hasn’t changed. I’m still living in Maine (so much for that exit plan, Kels), I’m still working at Job Corps, I’m still living in my basement apartment. But a lot has changed.
My nan died. A woman I couldn’t imagine my life without isn’t in it anymore. I’ve experienced losses, but so many of them were as a child or people who weren’t an everyday presence in my life. Losing my grandfather a handful of years ago was the hardest loss I’d suffered until this May. I had planned for him to someday walk me down the aisle at my wedding. I loved him dearly, and struggled with his illness for the last year or two of his life. But his death wasn’t unexpected. Sad, of course. Heartbreaking, undoubtedly. But thankfully we’d all had time to process it before he died.
Not so with Nan.
Nan and my mom
Not drinking didn’t stop her from having a good time
Niagara Falls with Nan and Logan last year
Madeira Beach vacation
Nan and I, early 90s?
Nan and Tom’s Wedding
Three weeks after she was diagnosed with brain cancer, she died. One week after the doctors told us they could put the brakes on her cancer, she was gone. Days after she had her first radiation cap fitted, she wasn’t here anymore. You see, she didn’t die from any of these things. She had several massive strokes that left her basically unconscious for the last days of her life.
We were all so ready for a fight. We were going to beat this cancer. It was going to fucking suck, but we were going to get through it. We would be there for all the radiation and chemo appointments, the hair loss, the puking, the bitchiness that was sure to come with it all. It was bound to be a long, tough road but we were all on board and ready for the assault.
To be left with nothing to fight for just days later was something we were all unprepared for.
Most days I get through life just fine. But driving home to my apartment every night, right below the house that used to be hers… it’s like another small hole gets poked in my heart. She’s not here. I can’t be pissed at her for invading my space, for not giving me the privacy I wanted so badly. I can’t go upstairs and eat dinner and watch Orphan Black or Top Chef with her. I’d give anything to be able to hear her tell me what to do again.
There’s a whole lot in my life she doesn’t know about anymore. She doesn’t know I’m back in school, like she wanted. She doesn’t know I’ve started the process of getting bariatric surgery. She doesn’t know how much I miss her every day.
I feel like so many people on the periphery of my life don’t quite get why I’m still so upset by her death. I feel like people hear ‘grandmother’ and think of frail little old ladies who need their hands held walking up the stairs. This woman was a force. That’s seriously the only word I can use to describe her. Fiercely independent, bold, witty, never one to shy away from anything. She was a defender. As much as I absolutely love and appreciate my mother, there’s a lot both she and I wouldn’t be today without Nan. To have a force like that taken away so suddenly has left me –I think many of us– in a weird state of unbalance. Some days I feel like I’ve got my feet back under me, but sometimes I’m just absolutely off balance.
So here we are. Just twelve days shy of being without Nan for four months. It feels like a lifetime, and at the same time it feels like an instant. I’m sure, as with all things, it’ll get easier in time. I look forward to that… For now, though, it hurts.
The last photo I took of Nan and her sisters.