October. Fitting that this month falls within the changing of seasons, where vibrant life turns bright orange and fiery red before beginning its descent to the ground. This is where I have been; learning lessons about life, the golden end days, the eventual fall to death, and the afterwards in which passing brings new life and yes, celebration.
My grandmother passed away in the middle of her favorite season. The prayers in my head manifested themselves in the words I uttered over and over. "Take her." "In peace." Of course it is not easy, but it's what you do for people you love the most. You let them go. We let her go. But first she had to be alright with letting us go too.
Before she left, I was blessed with a few days of my grandma's company surrounded by incredible individuals I am fortunate enough to to share my features with-my family.There were moments of silence holding her hand and plenty of kisses on the forehead. There were also words. Not many, but never wasted. Our conversations where mostly brief, as not to be tiresome, but sometimes they were longer filled with memories conjured from the past. Yet a common element was threaded through my grandmother's words. The question of am I enough? How often do we ask ourselves this very same question multiple times a day? I often do. Yet as the leaf is golden in preparation for its descent this question becomes even more poignant. My grandmother was more than enough.
At under five feet hovering around ninety pounds this woman did not really take up much physical space on earth. But she did so in so many other ways. Growing up on a farm in Iowa and then supporting herself working for a family in Minnesota left her with no more than an eighth grade education. Yet she is one of the most articulate poets and writers I know and played a strategic Scrabble game. It was not long after her marriage to my grandfather that she started a family, always providing oatmeal carmelitas, brownies, and special k bars cut up into sixty-four pieces to satisfy what has become the genetic sweet tooth. Ten children later she was left to raise her family on her own. This is what has been her greatest feat. I wonder how is it that one person can give so much to the world. There are times when I have looked around a room filled with people, even though only half my aunts, uncles, and cousins were present and been amazed by the love. No, it's not the kind where we pretend to get along at holidays, it's the real thing. It's sharing our lives, it's hula hooping together, it's savoring wine, it's trying to squeeze too many activities into the day, it's complaining about our bad feet, it's gazing up at the full moon. All because of one woman.
One woman who always knew what to say. One woman whose small hands that sometimes braided my hair and wrote the kindest notes were the gentlest I've ever known. One woman whose competitive spirit could put anyone to shame over cards or boardgames.One woman who cared deeply about the world and the least fortunate in it. One woman who always reminded me to gaze to the sky and revel in what I saw. One woman who blew kisses that carried her love to wherever I ended up and made me feel like I was doing something right. One woman whose last wishes were that we continue to celebrate.
And we will. We'll celebrate you. Because Grandma, you are more than enough. You have mattered.
While this has been one of the toughest months, I can also say it's been one of my favorites. When people have asked, "how are you doing?" I've honestly answered, " I'm doing just fine." I was able to do so because so many of you prayed with me, listened to me on the phone for hours, and were vulnerable in journeying through loss together. I've been reminded of how love gives life. Thank you. You too, have mattered.