One month after I turned 26, my grandmother died. Unexpectedly.

In 2 days, I will turn 27. My first birthday without her. No card in the mail. No phone call. No dinner date. Just memories.

Last year, I didn’t talk to her on my birthday. I called a few times when I got her card, but must’ve been calling at times she was resting or not near her phone. I left a voicemail and sent a text but we weren’t able to connect. I figured I’d be hearing from her in a bit to make plans for the upcoming holidays. I was wrong.

I’ve become really close with Grief over the past 11 months. Learning its ins and outs — the ways it grips me and releases me. Oftentimes, I feel sad and disconnected from others. Lamenting the loss of one of the few people in my life that seemed to love me unconditionally. Other times I feel angry, confused, stuck in the unknowing of it all. But the undercurrent through all of this is Guilt. Guilt that I didn’t try harder to see her more often. Guilt that I hadn’t called her a few more times around my birthday. Guilt that I didn’t reach out first to start our holiday plans. Guilt that I should have been better, a better granddaughter.

I am still waiting for the day when I can reflect on our happy memories, look at pictures without turning into a puddle of tears, listen to the last voicemail she left me without wanting to crawl into a hole and never leave.

Recently, a friend shared an article about storying Grief as something that life grows around, not as something that we “get over.” That Grief will reappear and suck us back in, but then, at some point, our life continues to grow. Grief doesn’t necessarily change, but our lives moving forward do. It’d be nice for Grief to share a timeline of when they’ll allow me some reprieve but I don’t get the sense that Grief plays a fair game.

October 11 will be a tough day for me. September 12 is going to be one of the hardest yet. My hope is for this heartache to someday be eased by family, friends, coworkers, smiles from strangers, fresh air on cool days, sunsets, sunrises, white wine, dark beer, time, long podcasts, hugs, driving with the windows down, celebrations, plants, cuddling with Lola, binging TV shows, helping others heal, takeout dinners, cozy blankets, traveling, silence. And tears, lots of tears. And love, because she would have wanted me to show you all so much love. I don’t know the recipe for healing a broken heart, but that’s where I’m starting.

I love you, Meme. I so so so wish you were here.

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