There was a collection of her jewelry on the table this afternoon. She's laying twenty feet away, and we're browsing through her accessories trying to decide what the take - there's enough for something for each of her granddaughters. There are twenty of us, eighteen living. I looked in a box and saw her "cornflake" earrings. They're the ones I most remember her wearing throughout my childhood. They're the ones she's putting on in my very first memory. I wrote a poem about it in college: "Grammy and Love are the First Thing I Recall."
Grammy and Love are inseparable in my mind and memory and being. The two were born together in my awareness and became a force in my life - a force that simultaneously propels me forward and lifts me up.
She's in what I can only hope are her last days. I don't know how many tears I've cried throughout my life at the thought of her passing - of living my life without her. Buckets of tears. Late night, waking up from dreams, gasping for air because she was gone tears. About two years ago, I made my peace with what would be her eventual death. She had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and when I got to see her a few days after she'd been released from the hospital, I was finally able to say "It's okay for her to go."
She recently had emergency surgery to remove a bowel obstruction. The surgery was successful, but the incision wasn't healing as it should. She didn't want any more interventions to fix it. She came home earlier this week on hospice. Family has gathered and is gathering. No one knows when she will leave us, but I know she's ready.
I don't know what lessons are left to learn, and while I hope the end is peaceful and comes soon for her, I know that there is a timing that works out perfectly for each of us. I almost never listen to contemporary Christian radio stations, but I happened to tune to one on my drive to Fresno today, and this line caught me: "I can say God is good, even when He's not understood."
God is so good. Always. He gave me her, and he gave her me. We needed one another. And we'll keep growing to and from each other forever.
Grammy and Love are the First Thing I Recall
The middle of the bed
lumped up as she sat on the edge.
Hazy eyelashes, intertwined,
distorted my first morning view.
The mirror was in front of her,
to our side, the window.
Sun filtered through long lace curtains
that were floating on the morning breeze.
I rolled over and watched her
pick her jewelry as I have always known her to,
holding up one earring and then another.
She is getting ready to go to work.
Final adjustments are made.
She fluffs her hair between her hands
and looks on.
Her day outside of herself will soon begin.
She turns to me and leans down.
I feel her kiss on my forehead
and then she whispers,
"I love you" in my ear.