17 October 2014

my grandma

September was a hard month. I spent ten days sitting in hospice with my grandma as she said goodbye to us all. I held her hand, smoothed her hair, whispered prayers in her ear. I sang to her and told her funny little memories and sat in silence, or in tears. I laid my head at the foot of her bed, I laughed at the funny things she said when she could manage words. I slept on the floor and read quietly in the corner. I gave her sips of water on a sponge, I watched my family say their goodbyes and hug her and kiss her forehead every night, wondering if tonight would be the night she leaves us.

My grandma was a force. I have hesitated sharing about her here because I'm not sure my heart can take putting it to words. I'm not even sure I want to share all the things that I hold so dear to me where she is concerned. She was and is my kindred spirit in so many ways, and that feels private.

But it also feels wrong to not mention her here, in my little space. She has read what I wrote since the moment I put pen to paper. She kept every email I sent her when I traveled and gave them to me a few years ago, bound in a book, to remember. She always expressed pride and encouragement in her quiet way, and I never doubted that she was one of my greatest advocates.

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up. Weeks and months at a time from birth. Every summer I would stay with them in their little condo. I'd make commercials on their giant video camera, I'd help her stir the spaghetti, and watch her paint her nails. I'll always think of her when I eat cantaloupe and sourdough toast with butter and honey, because that's what we ate every single morning. I'll remember sitting on their back patio, her listening to me describe every detail of a movie I'd seen. Taking walks under the California palm trees every evening, trips to the beach, and the time she hiked to the top of Battle Mountain in San Diego with me to watch the sunrise. My grandma didn't hike.

I'll remember painting t-shirts with her and making mop dolls and stenciling stationary. That she taught me how to make chocolate crinkle cookies and fudge and roasted potatoes and the day we decided together that homemade spaghetti sauce is far superior to a jar. That she let me sleep on an air mattress in their room whenever I visited, even though she'd gone to the the trouble of setting up a lovely guest room for me to stay in. I'll never forget the summer she read The Secret Garden to me every night before bed, or that she is the person who taught me to pray. 

My heart is still so broken over the loss of her. There are days I forget that she's gone and then it hits me so swiftly and squarely in the chest, it takes my breath away. The other day I called my grandpa to check in and it went to voicemail. And there was her voice as if nothing was different, as if she'd be there to call me back.

Yes, she was a force. Quiet strength. No nonsense. Beautiful until the end. She taught me, by who she was, to take pride in who I am, to take care in the details. To care for others. To enjoy life.

Thank you, Grams. I don't know if I said it enough, but I am so grateful for you. I miss you with my whole heart.


  1. So sorry about your grandmother. She was a beautiful woman and the photo of you both is lovely. I'm friends with your mom on Twitter and I know how much your grandmother was a huge part of your lives. Prayers of healing for you and your family.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your Grandma, Carina!!!! It sounds like she really had a hand in shaping you to be the amazing person you are. xoxo