I hate this time of year.
On the 23rd of November in 2004, I lost my Oma, my grandma, to Multiple Meloma. Seeing her fight those final months destroyed me, and yet in my naive mind, I thought she was going to be okay. Shoot. She was my Oma, my strong, independent, unbreakable Oma. She would come out of this. Even when they brought her hospital bed in and she could hardly get up to go to the bathroom anymore, I was convinced that she would get over whatever it was, she would beat cancer, and life would be the same. We’d go back to see the Nutcracker every Christmas (or around Christmas) like we always did. We’d spend summers playing at Cedar Point. She’d come to my graduation and smile and take pictures when I walked across the stage.
But I came home, Wendesday, November 23rd 2004 to my father standing outside the house and an eerie silence that told me something wasn’t right.
I still beat myself up to this day. I was so stupid. Why didn’t I realise the extremity that was happening before me? My Oma was my caretaker, provider and mother. She showed me what love was, not just told me. She was always so proud of me. Anything and everything I did. She’d show me off like she had won the Lottery.
So I’d like to write a letter to those of you who experienced the same pain as me. I can’t speak for your raising when it comes to your legal prentals or biological parentals. I can only speak for me and how it was like losing my Oma. My only parent.
To you, my sweet little ray of sunshine.
The pain you feel, even decades down the road is validated. I know when you look at the world around, people will tell you they lost their grandparents and have no clue how you related. Nor will anyone else understand the connection you had to them. They were everything to you. Your guardian, your mentor, and even down to the most basic role in your life that you should have had – they were your parent. They raised you and taught you about the world. The memories you have with them can never be replaced.
Other people will tell you of their lost grandparent and seem as if it’s a minor loss, therefore they will never understand, truly the loss you’ve experienced. It’s a sad normality of this life. Few will every understand what you experienced. You’ll sit back and miss the fact that you always had that someone by your side that you can rely on. You’ll miss that moment when something good happens, you want to call them and tell them, just to hear them say ‘I’m proud of you!’.
They were always much more than family. They were your best friend. And no matter how far down the road you are, how much you are strong and happy, there will be that little child inside of you that will cry when you really start to sit back and think about how those times had shaped you into the person you are now. Looking for advice won’t quite feel the same when you turn to someone else. They won’t quite speak the same language you and your grandparent could. It won’t settle the same way it would if your grandma or grandpa had told you want to do.
And that’s okay.
Something people need to understand is that nothing is ever going to compare to the nights you spent with them cooking for Thanksgiving dinner or gathering apples and taking the bruised ones to make applesauce. Or even the nights that you sat in Grandpa’s basement or garage and he taught you how to build a birdhouse. Maybe that’s even where you got your love for carpentry or creating things.
No one is ever going to speak the same exact language as you two did. You’ll see the world for what it really is. You’ll love differently than everyone and you’ll always expect the worst. When your mentor passed, you probably didn’t even realise the severity of the situation nor the impact it would have on the rest of your life. Sometimes you might even question the memories you have if you were too young to understand.
Don’t beat yourself up over the past. You did what you could, what you had to do, to survive the loss. My point is this; you never are truly alone in the world anymore. Even when you feel the sheer chill of loneliness, you’ll often feel the arms of a ghost around you, holding you. You won’t have to worry about wanting to share moments with them and telling them about it because they’ll be there right at your side, experiencing the world with you. You had a connection with them that no one else did and neither time nor belief nor loss will separate the love you had for each other. Even when you fall, they’ll wish they were back in the physical bodies to help you back on your feet.
I can promise you, I will speak for them and tell you that they love you. Every day. No matter what. They ARE proud of you, of the length you’ve come to better yourself and better your life. Look at the blessings around and you’ll even see little parts of them, trying to leave you a message. Even if it’s something as simple as they love you and they miss you as much as you miss them.
You’re never alone anymore. Nor were you ever to begin with. Sometimes it just takes one thing to remind you that they’re there.
Live on love, my friend. Show the world your warmth and never give up on yourself. You can accomplish amazing things with just your own two hands.