9 years ago, today.

It’s been 9 years. 9 years since Grandma passed away. She loved Scrabble, and doing puzzles, playing card games, and coloring. To this day, my obsession with puzzle season (aka: winter in Michigan) and my love for the whole “adult coloring” trend can be attributed to her. I miss her every day; we all do.

I still remember when it happened – April 2, 2008. I just had knee surgery that winter, going through PT and struggling with the inability to work out or play volleyball, at my heaviest weight ever, going through the emotions of her cancer (and finding out at the same time that my other Grandma had breast cancer – to which she’s a survivor!). I remember bawling, daily – curled up in my bed in a knee brace, wishing I could have just one more day. One more day with her. Regretting not spending more time with her.

Funny that today I spent crying too – but over what? Not over losing someone else in my life, but the feeling of losing myself a little bit. Who am I? Why are the highs so high, but the lows so incredibly low? What am I searching for? What am I missing? Why do I feel so lonely? Why can’t I stop comparing? Why do I feel like I should be “farther along” in life? 

I think about Grandma today – about her strength, her dignity, her honesty, her abundant love, her laugh. Gosh, that laugh. Walking into my grandparents’ house – a jar full of pistachios on the counter (always!), seeing her sitting in “her chair”, greeting us with THE BEST bear hug ever, trying to get us to eat everything in the kitchen. There was nothing like it. Nothing like the feeling you got when you saw her, hugged her, talked to her, received handwritten snail mail from her, got your butt kicked by her in Scrabble or card games.

Speaking of handwritten notes… my grandparents used to visit Ireland a couple times a year. After she passed, we used her [handwritten] journal that documented some of their trips to plan a 2-week Europe vacation of our own in June of 2012. We stayed where she stayed, ate where she ate, laughed at the comments she made about rude waitresses or less-than-impressive hotels (we avoided staying at those ones). We first visited London for a few days, then flew to Dublin to adventure around the country for 1.5 weeks, visiting her family that still lives there and meeting locals with adorable accents. Each day we made our way to another hotel that was awaiting our arrival, and on the second-t0-last night there, a castle was our home. It was beautiful, and it was emotional; we lived her adventures with my Grandpa, but also made our own memories – all of which kept me holding on to her. That felt like the closest I could get.

Back to today – and how my self-doubts and comparison mean nothing, how I need to stop worrying and live in the moment, be happy with myself and where life has taken me. How would she have handled this? If I would have called her today, what would she have told me? “You’re beautiful; you have gone so far and accomplished so much; you have your whole life ahead of you; you have the biggest heart; Grandpa and I are so proud of you; you’ll do great with anything you set your mind to; we love you more than you know.” 

So, when I call Grandpa, and his standard phone response is “my, you’re looking even more beautiful today” (like it always is) – that’ll do and that serves as a solid reminder of her, every time! These days, he’s always the closest I can and want to get- and I wouldn’t have it any other way. <3

Ireland, 2012

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