“I just called to say I love you,
I just called to say how much I care,
I just called to say I love you,
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”
~Stevie Wonder, “I Just Called To Say I Love You”
It’s been twelve days, and every one of them has seemed a little less sunny without your beautiful smile to light up the world. It seems strange to think that image will only dance in our memories and beam over at us from pictures from now on. The thought of not being able to hug you, to talk with you, to just call to say I love you … it’s unbearable. Everyone says the heartbreak will get easier with time, that eventually we’ll be able to look back on the memories with happiness instead of hurt, but that seems impossible right now. Still, though, I think of those memories anyway. I let them run through my mind and try as hard as possible to draw comfort from them. I’m so lucky to have had you for twenty-seven years, so blessed beyond measure. You were – and will always continue to be – more than my precious Gram. You were my hair cutter, my chicken soup maker, my sewing extraordinaire, and, most importantly, one of my dearest friends. My head understands that you’re not by our sides anymore, but my heart … it’s not there yet. I don’t know if it ever will be.
When I think of you, I think of trips to Baskin Robbins, where you’d always get Rocky Road ice cream, your favorite. I think of you giving me ice cream when I was younger and suggesting I dip pretzel sticks into it, because that made it all the better. I think of the countless bowls of chicken soup you made me, the afternoons I used to spend organizing your sewing box as a kid, the way you were there for every big moment in my life and all the small ones, too. I remember walking with you on the boardwalk, you letting me win at checkers when I first learned how to play and then you beating me four times in a row at Go Fish just last summer, our shopping trips out and our lunches in. I remember you singing to me, reading to me, loving me.
You got so much joy from your family, and even though I’m writing this now with tears trickling down my cheeks, I’m also writing with fullness in my heart. Because that’s what you blessed our family with: all the love, contentment, and joy that anyone could ever hope to have. You said something a few months ago that will stay with me always, that you were so glad our family is yours. Well, Gram, I am so glad you were – and will forever be – mine. You have touched my life in ways words cannot explain. I came across an old note from you the other day, a beautiful one, and even though I can’t bring myself to read it again just yet, it’s sitting in my room and that brings comfort. Your picture smiles at me from a prominent spot on my writing desk – I still remember the night we took it at the shore – and your love lives inside me every moment.
You have been my champion, my rock, my support, my friend, and my dear, dear Gram. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you or wish you were here. We’re struggling to get by without you, but we’ll make it, because that’s what you’d want. We’ll channel your strength and determination, promise. It will always hurt my heart that you didn’t get a chance to read these most recent two books of mine – I wanted so badly to share them with you these past few months, but you were dealing with too much and I knew it was best to hold off until you were feeling better – but I hope, somehow, you’ll be able to read them someday. Writing has been my salvation through the past few months, and I just thought you should know I wrote a scene the other day where Sofie makes potato salad from her grandmom’s recipe. Maybe she’ll tackle chicken soup one day, too :)
I’m going to finish that blanket you were knitting me, even though I’m the least crafty and artistic person ever. I’m going to think of you every time I eat a chocolate-covered marshmallow or watch General Hospital. I’m going to remember the way you always asked me to call after driving home, just so you knew I was safe. I’m going to cherish the feeling of your arms around me, your kiss on my cheek, and the safety and unique kind of love that only a grandparent can provide. And one day I’m going to do these things with a smile instead of tears. I don’t know when that’ll be, but I promise I’ll work on it.
Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me and for being there unconditionally. I miss you so much. I love you so deeply. You’re my heart, Gram, and you always will be.
Love you forever and a day,