Today, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday. The rules: Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
This week's prompt: Reflect.
19 years ago yesterday, my Grandma died.
I still remember the day well.
After school, my parents drove me to Midway, where I flew to St. Louis to spend the weekend at my aunt's, helping her decorate for Christmas.
That night, she picked me up from the St. Louis airport and asked me how Grandma was doing. The question was expected since four months earlier, Grandma had been diagnosed with cancer. Shortly thereafter, she entered hospice care and moved into our house.
I remember telling my aunt how odd it was that the night before, Mom made a point of telling me, “Make sure you say good-bye to your Grandma before you go to bed.” Stranger still, when I went to do just that, my Grandma asked me repeatedly, “You're going away this weekend, right?”
Hours later, we arrived at my aunt's house and I called home to tell my parents I'd arrived safely. My mom's frantic response suggested something was terribly wrong.
Minutes or maybe hours later (at this point, I'm not sure which), Mom called to tell us Grandma died.
We buried her a few days later, on December 13, the date that should have been her birthday.
Grandma's death was my first up-close encounter with death. To this day, I believe Grandma knew her death was imminent but that by a sheer force of will, she hung on until she knew I wouldn't be there to witness it, perhaps in an effort to protect my 14-year old self from witnessing death in my own house.
Nearly twenty years later, what I know about that first experience with death is that it shapes you, mysteriously and profoundly. Though I remember Grandma often throughout the year, as soon as my own Christmas tree goes up, I find myself reflecting on her life and legacy more than usual.
I remember my mom's decision to decorate early that fateful year. I remember Grandma sitting on the couch in those last weeks of her life, intently staring at the tree lights for hours on end. And I remember the love she showed for me – in life and in death.