I’ve always known this year would sneak up on me, I just didn’t know the specific date.
Well, 2013-2014 is the year and it while not unexpected, I still was not prepared for the ride. So now I am impatiently waiting on the Earth to make its journey around the Sun. The voyage began on April 11, 2013 and some days it seems unending. If I can survive the first year without Grandma, then I can tackle the years ahead on my own, too.
For those of you who have lost a loved one, you understand the meaning behind my title. Every “first” that passes after her death rips the scab off my heart once again. The past couple of months have been especially difficult, leaving my soul feeling more scarred with each passing day.
It started on my 26th birthday…the first without Grandma. I kept hoping that somehow there would be a card from Grandma. Deep down I knew it wouldn’t come but I refused to acknowledge the truth. Perhaps she had written it in preparation knowing she wouldn’t be here for my birthday. There had to be SOMETHING because NOTHING was too painful to fathom. Regardless of my silent prayers for one last posthumous card my birthday came and went without Grandma. The trek around the Sun continued without her.
One of my most difficult “first” experiences was lurking in academia. I have spent the past year researching a Greek sculpture at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I wasn’t looking for anything more than a term paper but I stumbled into a new theory that resulted in a meeting with curators at the museum to present my research and from there I presented at a conference. Now I find myself headed to Rome to do research on site. I am set up for a dissertation and Ph.D. in the not too distant future.
The week before all of my meetings and presentations I was a mess. I wept silent tears. I bawled. I gasped for breath between sobs. She would have been so damn proud of me. When nobody else had time to listen she would have watched me practice until I was blue in the face. Even if she didn’t understand the material she would have understood the importance. She would have been thrilled except she wasn’t here to see any of it. The presentations went off flawlessly despite her absence. Another day was crossed off the calendar even though she wasn’t here to see it.
Sometimes the “firsts” sneak up on me. I was going to the grocery store yesterday. It was cold and the rain was making a half-hearted attempt at snow. I was sitting at a traffic light when I reached over to make sure I had my coupons with me. Just as the light turned green the date caught my eye: October 20, 2013. Her 96th birthday. As I made the left turn my windshield misted over only this time it was due to my tears. I pulled into a parking space and cried without reserve. She was not hear to celebrate with us but that did not stop October 20th from happening.
I have a few more “firsts” to get through before the Earth completes its orbit. The first Halloween without her cackle. The first Thanksgiving without being able to share the gelatinous cranberry gob with her. The first Christmas without her twinkling eyes and spirit. The bigger events that she will miss are hiding in the future, too. My graduation. My wedding. The birth of my children. My grandmother is gone and no amount of time is going to lessen that blow. God willing the Earth will travel around the Sun 50 or more times before I leave this world but I will always miss her.