Essay that my daughter wrote about her grandmother.
“Six months to a year,” my mother said, quoting the doctor with the crystal ball. “The cancer spread to her liver.” She paused, “We’re lucky we have the chance to say goodbye.” The words rang in my head. Death was not lucky I thought to myself. “Hello,” my mother’s voice came through shakily, “Erin, are you okay? “Yeah I’m here. I’m okay,” I lied. My voice was quivering as well. I could feel my face get hot as the tears began flowing. “Is she in pain?” “The medication helps,” she replied, “but mornings are always easier for her. Why don’t you stop by?” “I will.” There was a long silence. “I love you mom.” “I love you too.” I hung up the phone and sat still for several moments. A feeling of anger overwhelmed me as I realized I should have spent more time with her. I knew I had let the chaos of life interfere with those things that really, truly mattered. I got ready to leave. Sitting outside my grandmother’s house, not remembering the drive, I tried to calm myself before entering. I fanned my eyes as I walked through the grass to the back door, taking a deep breath before entering. The kitchen was empty, and the usual aroma of grandma’s cooking had vanished. I took another breath and tried to make my hands stop shaking. She was resting on her favorite chair in the living room wearing her favorite pink pajamas. She opened her eyes. “Morning Gram,” I said softly, “How are you feeling?” “I could use a hug,” she replied with a smirk. I smiled and went to her. She was warm to the touch and the back of her neck was damp. Everything else in the world had suddenly seemed to change, but her smile was the same. “I love you,” I whispered in a trembling voice, trying to hold back the tears. “I love you too honey,” she whispered back as she studied my face. “It’s okay to cry,” she continued as the tears began rolling down her cheeks. “I’m glad we can cry together, it shows how much we care.” She paused for a moment, “I feel like I’ve ruined everyone’s day. I’ve never felt so loved.” “You are grandma,” I sobbed. “I don’t want you to go.” My pitch got higher and my heart began to race. We held each other close, never wanting to let go. “One of the things I’ll miss the most is not being at your wedding,” she said. I let out another sob and tightened my grip as if she were about to disappear. She whispered, “I’ll be there in spirit.” I was speechless. The idea of her death had not fully registered until that moment. “Help your mom get through this,” she said. “She thinks she has to be so strong, but she isn’t. Don’t let her fool you.” “I will,” I promised. “It’s probably my fault,” she went on, “She never really had a mother.” She looked around and sighed. “What’s done is done,” she said under her breath. “Are you scared?” I asked, trying to change the subject. “I’m a little shocked actually,” she chuckled, “I haven’t had much time to think about it. Enjoy every day you got kid, it seems like yesterday I was your age.” Something so simple had never made so much sense. “Enjoy every day you got…” That night the family gathered for grandma’s specialty, chicken and mashed potatoes, except this time we ordered it from K.F.C. Everyone ate in the living room, just like we do on Christmas. There were tears, but somehow the laughter shined through. I could not help but stare at her, trying desperately to soak up the moment. She was beautiful; her smile lit up the room. I can still hear her laughter. My grandmother passed away only forty-nine days after she was diagnosed with cancer. Although it was painful, those forty-nine days are among my fondest memories. When I feel myself taking life a little too serious, I remember her words. “Enjoy every day you got kid, seems like yesterday I was your age.”