Today is in many ways just another day. It's a very special day, as one of my very best friends celebrates her birthday on this day. But then there is a sadness that looms over me on this day as well. Ten years ago I lost my Grandmother on this day... and I will never forget it. January 16th is a very bittersweet day... as I have to celebrate Allison's birthday, because I love her and she has always been such a special friend to me. It doesn't make much sense why it couldn't have been another day that had to take my Grandmother away from my life. But then, there really wasn't a good day anyway. Ironically, the two women who stake a claim in making this an important day on my calendar are both women who mean the world to me in some way or another. Allison and I were best friends growing up -- and I still love her to death. Life has taken us in directions that keep us from being able to see each other often - but I know if I ever need her, she's always there (and she knows that about me as well.) My Grandmother... well, she might just be best described as my soulmate. She was the closest person to me... I find a lot of things I do (bad and good!) remind me of my Grandmother. She never met a stranger, she laughed all the time, she would get so angry she would cry, she had a very hard time giving up on someone, she loved with all of her heart - and she loved unconditionally, she always lost track of time.... she believed in forgiveness, and she got more joy from helping someone else than ever doing something for herself. She didn't like to be in the spotlight, but would rather be invisible. To me, she was very close to perfection... and I embrace the similarities in us.
Ten years is a long time, and so much has happened in that time. For years after she was gone, I would wake up needing to speak to her. That was common, because that was always the way it was. If something was on my mind, or something bad was going on in life, I would wake wanting to talk to her. So after she was gone, having that feeling would often start my day in tears... having to realize again that I couldn't speak to her. I wonder constantly what she would think about some things... about how my kids have grown up, and what they are each doing with their lives. I can imagine her laughing about something that happens, or see her crying because of a disappointment or a hurt. I imagine her passion or anger over an injustice, and sometimes it makes me laugh or cry! So often I want to ask her opinion about something... but honestly, I already know what she would have to say most of the time. I just would love to hear her voice. A couple of months ago I woke up sobbing... I had dreamt that she had come to talk to me, and it was so real... and it broke my heart when she had to go, and I had to wake up.
I'm thankful for the 36 years that I had with her in my life... and there is no way to even imagine the different person I would be had she not been there all of those years. She helped make me who I am. She made me a stronger woman. She molded me into a woman of integrity and strong faith. She reinforced my beliefs, and she helped me believe in myself. She taught me to love completely - and how to have righteous anger about something. And she taught me how to forgive - and how to ask for forgiveness. My life would not have been the same these past 10 years if she hadn't been in it the 36 years before. And as much as I miss her now (the sobs choke in my throat as I write this, and my heart skips from the sadness of missing her) I would rather have the memory of those 36 years with her along with the pain of missing her... than to have never had her at all.
Embrace the people who are special to you. It makes me sad that some people don't have someone like her in their life... someone to help make them a better person. But it makes me even sadder to see those that DO have someone in their life, but they ignore it or don't take seriously how important that person is.
Ten years has flown by... and I look forward to the day when I will be reunited with my Grandmother. But for now, I want to live my life fully. I want to live my faith loudly. I pray that my life will leave the legacy of love that my Grandmother's life has left. And I thank God today for special people - and special days.
Here are a few pictures of my sweet Grandmother.... Lenora Christopher Swink.
|These 2 pics were on at my mother's house on the porch.... my Grandmother and I shared hating having our pictures made. She would tolerate it, but I laugh at how she was always awkward on that side of the lens -- that's just how I am too!|