Six years ago today we had to say goodbye forever. I had yet another chemo treatment that week and I always wore my wig when I saw you so you wouldn’t know I was sick. Mom and I didn’t want you to worry. I felt like I had lied to you. That broke my heart. Losing you would break it even more.
I got the call from mom that morning and sobbed till there were no tears left. They said they found you dead when they went in to give you your morning medication. I hated seeing you in that nursing home. Everytime I came by to visit you begged me to take you home. I wished so much that I could do that for you. For all you did for me. For all the love I had for you.
I remember when I was a little girl you would give me a pretty cup just like yours and put a teeny bit of coffee in it with lots of milk so I could feel like a big girl drinking coffee in the afternoon with grandma. I remember all the trips to the Bronx zoo chasing after Tom as he ran way ahead of us, so far we couldn’t keep up. I remember how safe and loved I felt around you, how you always had a warm hug and a big kiss for me no matter what. It made up for all the times my parents didn’t.
I remember when you told me I would be ok after Paul died. You loved him like your own grandson. I hope you know how much he loved you. I think you did.
I miss all of your stories. I could listen for hours to you talk about growing up during the Depression, one of 10 children and your parents who were off the boat from Italy struggling to make a life for all of you. I saw you cry each time you lost a sibling wondering how you ever got through it. You outlived 8 of them and I wished you could have been the one to live forever.
I can still smell the gravy you made every Sunday. Pasta was always my favorite and still is. I loved helping you cook. It was how I learned. The first time I made your gravy you took one taste and told me exactly what was missing and by how much. I thought about how I would never be as good.
The day you died I wondered how much more I could take. I wondered how much more I would lose. We buried you on Christmas Eve. It was the second worst Christmas of my life. I had your gift wrapped but had to return it. It took awhile before I could bring myself to do that. I didn’t want to let go.
I felt guilty for all the times I didn’t come visit you. For all the things I didn’t say. For not telling you I had cancer. I wondered if you knew. Because you always seemed to know in a psychic kind of way. You were always in tuned to the spirit world. I believe that is where I get it from, my heightened awareness of the other side. Sometimes I still feel you around me or I smell your Sunday gravy somehow and I just smile knowing that you are still watching over me.
This picture was taken on Christmas Day 1999. It is my favorite of us together. Who knew it would be the last…….