It’s strange how expected things can creep up on you. It’s strange how foreseen things can surprise you. It’s strange how the death of someone so far away can leave such a cavernous empty place.

How is it that a loved one can be ill for a time? How is it that one can visit that loved one and barely recognize the person in that bed? How is it, that even barely recognizable, that loved one exudes the aura? personality? vibe? of the loved one you came to expect? How is it that once you come to visit that loved one and they are barely there, yet somehow so present? How is it that you return some weeks later and the change over that person so great; so positive? How is it that in the end, they never recovered; never really got better?

How is it that after all the visits, phone calls, photos, low expectations…how is it that a death can so derail you? How is it that the world can continue on? How is it that no one else knows?

How can she be gone? How can it be that I’ll never hug her neck again? How can all my chances for tomorrows with her cease?

These are the things I’m struggling with right now as I deal with the death of my grandmother. She was this cantankerous, LOUD, amazing woman. You never wondered what she was thinking because she spoke her mind often and all her feelings were always written all over her face. She was bossy and a worrier. She wasn’t super demonstrative of her love with all the kissing and telling you she loved you.

But you knew she loved you.

You knew she loved you because she laughed out loud when you walked in the door. You knew she loved you because she would make your favorite “Nanny dish” whenever you came to visit. You knew she loved you because she wrote your name on things in her house to give you some day. You knew she loved you because she cared for you in subtle ways; letting you pick the banana peppers right off her plants to eat, letting you play in the upstairs bedroom even though it was shut up for the season; giving you little surprises in little bags whenever you dropped by for a visit; letting you watch her shows with her when you weren’t allowed to watch the shows your cousins were watching; letting you turn her laundry room/walk-in closet into your own special kingdom; letting you walk to the Price Chopper for snacks after you were a certain age. The list could go on and on.

My relationship with my grandmother wasn’t always comfortable. We butted heads a lot when I was growing up; too much alike in some respects for complete harmony, I expect. Yet, in her later years, she became one of my most favorite people. The reasons we butted heads became things I admired greatly about her. She became much more demonstrative of her love with lots of hand holding, hugs and kisses.

She wasn’t perfect, my grandmother, but she was honest and real. My favorite memory of her, and there are a great many, is of her laughing loudly, a cackle really, her joy at my presence when I came to visit and then patting the seat next to her so she could link arms with me and chat.

Good night, Sweet Nanny. Your long, long, long day is finally over.