This is the first picture I snapped of Snowy after I “inherited” him from my dad. We had just come out of the pet store where he got his own dog bed, a new collar and some treats to take to his new home. Today we had to put Snowy down because he had a cancerous lump in his neck that couldn’t be removed. He spent his last hour curled up with his momma. We’ll have him cremated and spread him with my dad in the mountains; my brother wanted that. I have promised him he’ll get a belly rub from grandpa when he gets to heaven.
It’s been five years today since I lost the most influential person in my life. The best parts of who I am have come from her, and she is everything I strive to become. Not a single day passes when I don’t see her face, hear her laugh, feel the warmth of her hugs or think how unfair it is that she was taken so early from my life. Even though it hurts to long for her, I can only be grateful because for 23 years she was my rock and my safe haven.
My grandmother meant the world to me. She had always wanted a daughter of her own, but when her third child was still-born, she lost that dream and I think she re-found it in me. I wasn’t the first female grandchild to be born, but I was geographically the closest and I think that allowed us to become the closest emotionally, as well. Growing up, I think I spent more time with my grandparents than I did with my own parents. I used to love hanging out with them. We would go for drives, get ice cream, go shopping, or just sit around at home cooking or watching scary movies. I still to this day don’t like scary movies but grandma did, and she made me feel safe. She would sit there knitting away and giggling and gaping at the television while I huddled in a blanket on the couch, simply happy to be in her presence.
I didn’t see Gram as often after my parents divorced and we moved away. I remember though, every time I came home I would ring the doorbell and walk in to greet grandma, she would turn the corner from the kitchen, see that it was me, and *sqeal*. I’m not exaggerating and anyone who knew her could attest to this. She would actually let out this high pitched throaty squeal and as it turned into a giggle she would grab me up and squeeze me until I couldn’t breathe any longer. I lived for those moments. I would give anything to have them back, I think they’re what I miss the most. I’ve never felt as important or special to anyone in my life as I did to her. She truly loved me more than words.
People talk a lot about “soul mates” in the context of romantic love, but I don’t think it has to be that way. I think grandma was my soul mate; in fact, I firmly believe it. Even though Gram hasn’t been physically in my life for five years now, my faith allows me to believe that she is no further away than she ever was. Sometimes I forget and get angry that she’s gone, but then I remember that she never truly feels far away if I would only pay attention.
I won’t be sad tomorrow, when the anniversary hits. Those dates never make me sad, it’s the unexpected things that do. Instead, tomorrow will be a nervous and exciting day, because I will participate in the first of five adoption training seminars that I will complete this month. I’m sure grandma will be there next to me, cheering me on as I go! I can always count on her for that.
I made this video a couple of years ago; It’s of Grandma with me as a baby. You probably don’t care to see it, but it makes me smile to hear her laugh.
It was around this time last year when I had my meltdown. I hit the depression stage of grief, after losing my father. My relationship with Y came to a heartbreaking and unexpected end, and my work atmosphere had me so stressed out that I could barely face walking into the office each day.
I remember bawling during my entire morning commute one day. I remember sitting in the parking lot trying to catch my breath and stop myself from crying and shaking. I was having a major panic attack.
That day marked the climax of my breakdown, and it was also the day I started to heal. I already knew my mind wouldn’t be focused on my job that day, so I spent my time searching the web for a psychologist, and later that afternoon I saw my family doctor who prescribed me both an antidepressant/anti-anxiety medicine, as well as Ativan (Lorazepam) for the tough days. I also bought a journal and started writing my feelings out. There were a lot of them, they were messy, but it helped.
That day didn’t fix things, but it got the ball rolling. My grief was full bore ahead for quite some time, I couldn’t understand why things ended with Y, and I had to pop an Ativan before I could go to work most days because tension in the office was just that bad. I was being bullied. I ugly cried in front of my boss. Twice. If I wasn’t crying I was on the verge of telling her exactly where to go. It was a horrible few months.
Eventually, the meds started kicking in and I was able to keep it together a little better. It took a couple tries but I eventually found a shrink I clicked with, and we worked through a lot of abandonment issues that I was left with after my parents divorce. For the grande finale, I gave my two weeks notice just after Christmas and was able to decompress for nearly a month before starting my new job. From there, things were on the upswing.
Today, I’m in a healthy office environment. I have a job where
I’m praised, appreciated, challenged and supported. I miss my dad every day, but I’m sad about it far less often. I have moved on romantically, and I’ve made the decision to pursue my life dream of adopting an older sibling group.
My life isn’t perfect yet, and I doubt that’s even possible, but I have come so, so far over this past year. I’m finally living for me, and I’m happy about that.