Friday, August 12
It has been eight years since the last time I saw my grandma. In some ways, it feels like it has been a lot longer than that. So much about me has changed. I moved out of my parent's house and into a condo. I started my first year at Ole Miss. I became friends with my very cute but not available next door neighbor (Jonathan). I began taking journalism classes. I made the kind of friends I'll have for a lifetime. I fell in love. I turned 20, 21 and 22. I took Jonathan to California for the first time. I graduated from college. I moved to Memphis (Collierville) with Jonathan. I started my first real job on this day, five years ago. I got engaged. I was laid off from my first real job. I got married. I started working for Habitat. I (we) bought a house. I (we) adopted Porter. I (we) traveled to England and Italy and rediscovered my roots.... And I (we) went home to California. Again. And again. And again. I am not the same person I was at 19. At that time, my life was filled with unknowns -- would I end up alone, would I like Ole Miss, would I like journalism, would I make any friends? High school and community college hadn't been so kind to me. I was unsure of myself, and I didn't feel that I belonged anywhere. Those somewhat petty questions burned in my mind. I know the answers to all those questions now, eight years later. I am older and perhaps a little wiser. I realize my 19-year-old worries were silly. But I still miss her every day, and I still wish with all my heart that I could talk to her again. It doesn't seem possible that I won't get to in this lifetime. I have so much to share with her. Last week, one of my coworkers passed away very suddenly. He was only a few years younger than my grandma, and he was just as full of life as she was. Not surprisingly, his loss brought back all the memories I've stored away for the past few years. I realized that I can still remember every detail about that summer. It was such a major turning point in my life. If I've learned anything from these experiences, it is that life goes by so incredibly quickly. Every day is a gift, and it should not be wasted. We should enjoy each moment -- hug family and friends, play with our pets, eat good food, enjoy the outdoors, see the world, try lots of new things -- truly discover ourselves. We only have one life. I want mine to be a beautiful life that was filled with meaning and purpose. I want to be remembered like my friend was. He had done so much and touched so many people. Just like my grandma. When I was a little girl and we still lived in England, she would come and stay with us for weeks at a time. Before she would leave, I would hug her for a long time because I wanted to remember her smell. She loved Dove soap and O de Lancome, and I would breathe that in and hold onto it. Perhaps that's what we do when someone we love dies. We take a deep breath, and we try to absorb every memory we can. We're so afraid that we'll forget that person we love so desperately. Eight years later, I'm still treasuring the memories of that last moment with her. It wasn't a very good one, as she passed away one day later, and it was very early in the morning. But somehow my 19-year-old mind (suffering from incredible denial) knew that was goodbye. To this day, I continue to hold that in. It has become a part of me. Perhaps it was the piece that made me who I am today. Maybe it gave me the courage to take chances. I believe it made me stronger and more sure of myself. I know it allowed me to find true love and accomplish my dreams. If only I could share them with her. I wish she could have known who I've become.