A commemoration of loss
Today is my Grandma Margie's birthday. Two and a half years ago she passed away from complications after surgery to remove a tumor on her optic nerve that was causing her to go blind. Her passing fell during my junior year in high school; I remember coming home from my last driving lesson to discover the grave news. She was such a bright light, always so optimistic and doting to her numerous children and grandchildren. For the entire following year, I grappled over how someone so pure could be taken away so abruptly.
Today, I remember her warm hugs that enveloped me in her floral scent. I remember the Yiddish (an old language combining German and Hebrew) she taught me from her childhood and my own mother repeating it back again later at home. I remember gossiping with her. I remember showing her pictures of me and friends and her recalling their names without me reminding her. I remember the Snoopy shirt she gave to me one Hannukah that I wore until the cartoons totally faded. I remember the gluten free mac and cheese boxes she kept in the cupboard for when I didn't feel like eating Grandpa's lentil and rice concoctions.
It is healthy to acknowledge your losses. Grief is not a simple or temporary emotion; it is a lifetime process. Psychologist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross theorized the well known 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. One important - and in my opinion, essential - element she did not mention is remembrance. Accepting a loved one's death is one task; being able to remember them in all of their being is another. A person is not a library book you must return to the shelves and move on from once they are gone. I think of my grandmother as a novel you can keep turning the pages back to, whether you keep it in the attic or front and center on your nightstand.
Losing my grandmother with such little warning made me reflect on how to live my life more positively. A loss should help you grow and mature as your own person just like a good book does.