We had known that she was sick for just a short amount of time before her passing. Mark, Annabeth, and I were in the midst of listing our old house for sell, buying our current house, my best friend had her first child the day before, and the evening before Matt and Jenn announced they were leaving Indiana and moving 20 hours away to South Dakota. Our spring had been busy and I had been home as often as I could to see Grandma. I, thankfully, was able to have some good conversations with her and shared sweet moments with Annabeth and her. Even so, I was in no way prepared.
Annabeth and Grandma - June 2012 - Grand Rapids, MI
We had modified our holiday schedule and gone home for Easter a few weeks before. I had taken some time after that visit to write Grandma a letter but in the busyness of life it didn't get mail. The night Dad called to say she had passed, I saw the letter on my dresser.
We went home for the funeral and it was one of the loneliest and worst experiences of my life. I did not receive a single call, text, or note from a family member or friend. I remember, after the funeral, sitting at my grandparents kitchen table and going through the list of donations and flowers and realizing that I was the only family member who did not have a "thank you" to write.
I did receive two Facebook messages - both came from high school classmates that I had not spoken to since high school and neither one were girls that I had been particularly close to. Just two people.
When we got home from Evansville a week later, I saw the letter on my dresser. I took it out and read it. I realized that I had said everything in the letter to Grandma before and I prayed that she knew how much I loved her. I shredded the letter but kept the stamp.
I have kept this stamp for four years and it is my daily reminder to check in with people. To send the message, to make the time to send a birthday card, to write the sympathy card, to always write thank you notes. I keep the stamp to remind me to never let anyone else feel so alone.
Grandma Chico taught me so much - to love to read and learn, about baseball, about movies, about the pleasure in making things, about the joy in crafting, and about love. So much about love.
I share this today, on the anniversary of Grandma's death, because she always sent cards - birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and even St. Patrick's Day. Grandma was a dedicated pen-pal and I was fortunate enough to get her stationary and card sets when we cleaned the house out. They are my gifts to give away to others now - to share the love she shared so freely with everyone. I am so thankful for the example that she was in my life and pray that I am carrying on her legacy in a way that is pleasing to her and to the Lord.