This week is going to sound a little like my post last week, The Things We Hide: A Lost Mother. You can click on the link to read the full post, otherwise it was about how I lived without a mother and how I’ve hidden it for so long. The truth is that I’ve lost more than one mother.
My grandma was a very special person to me and I’ve written about her and her influence on here before in An Inspirational Woman. Needless to say, she was a huge part of my life. She passed away in August of 2014, just a few months after my wedding and college graduation. This past year and a half without her has been more than difficult for a myriad of reasons. Most of all is, I lost a mother again.
My mom passed away when I was still a child at 11. That experience would have been much harder if I wouldn’t have had my grandma, Mimi with me. I can’t even imagine having to go through that without her. She found a way to make everything more bearable. She was there to do our laundry, make me dinner and even help me with my homework during the months of my mom’s illness and after her death. She was a daily presence in our lives. I never felt that she didn’t have time for me as a child and I don’t know how she remained as strong as she was during the loss of a child. The only reason I ever had fun during the holidays after my mom passing was because Mimi made them fun. She brought the magic into those holidays that we lost along with my mother. That’s why this post and this time has been so tough for me.
When Mimi passed, I was in shock. It was very sudden and even though she was elderly with her fair share of ailments, I thought that she was in good health. She’d had accidents before from falling on ice to being thrown off a treadmill at full speed. So, I thought that her tumble down the stairs was nothing more than a painful inconvenience. I didn’t know what was to come. Within a week and a half of her hospitalization, she was dead. In the aftermath, my grandpa and I were the only ones in town to deal with all of the paperwork and arrangements (my sibling was teaching abroad in Europe at the time). I didn’t think much about what had happened, because it wasn’t real. It couldn’t be.
So, I made the arrangements, notified family and friends, and I gave my eulogy. The following months are a blur of repressed emotions. I drowned my sorrows in chocolate, television and even alcohol. I didn’t allow myself to think about what had happened, I had mentally checked out and there was no one home inside of me.
My grandma was so much more than just “my grandma” that it’s hard to put into words. In fact, I wrote an entire 50,000 word book about who she was and it still didn’t feel like enough. Essentially, she was my second mother. She was there when mine had gone. She took me to soccer practice. She packed my lunches. She made me dinner. She talked to me about boys. She paid my tuition and bought me a car. She helped me with homework and made dinner for my cast mates in the school play. I can’t express how much of a mother she was because she wasn’t “like” a mother at all. She was mine. When I had troubles, I went to her. When I needed help, I went to her. When I accomplished something, I went to her. She was my number one fan and my best friend. She was always there with helpful advice and a warm meal. I never thought of what it would be like to lose her, because that was something unimaginable to me. So when it happened, I couldn’t accept it.
I didn’t tell people about her death, because I didn’t know how to make them listen. Like my sibling put it “I wanted to go out into the streets and shake everyone, screaming in their faces ‘THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE WORLD JUST DIED! DON’T YOU EVEN CARE?!'” That’s the only way I know how to express it. I wrote last week about what it was like to have lost a mother. The thing is, I know all too well what it was like because it’s happened to me twice.
Mimi was my mother, just as much as my mother who gave birth to me was. That’s all there is to it. For a long time I didn’t talk about her. I couldn’t. I thought that tears were weakness and that now I had to be strong. After all, everyone else was crying and someone had to handle the affairs. I thought it had to be me. So, I steeled myself. I didn’t let any emotions in or out.
For months. For over a year. It’s never a good thing to bottle all of that up, because it always builds up enough pressure to escape.
After those emotions found their way out of my system, which is something for another post entirely, I began to talk about her. Actually, I couldn’t stop talking about her. I was waiting for someone to say “Shut up, Gina!” But, no one did. She was a really cool person and I’ve learned so much about her even after her death. I talked to my grandpa. I wrote a book for crying out loud! Of course, I wish that she was still with me in person. But, that’s not to say she isn’t with me at all. When I smell her perfume or look at her photos, even when I read her notes, she’s there. It’s that feeling. The one that I lost with her. Safety. It’s not gone, I just have to look for it a little harder now.
I’ve had two mothers that I loved equally. I’ve lost them both. But, I’m not hiding that anymore. They were amazing women who shaped not only my life, but that of others. My mom filled stranger’s lives with beauty through her garden and artwork. My second mom stood up for others who couldn’t defend themselves. She challenged authority and helped others. They both taught me what it meant to have a purpose. I was a lost for a while there, but I’m finding myself again now.
Who is your closest confidante? Who could you not live without?