“The dead are never truly gone. They linger in our minds and hearts and torture us with a malice they were not capable of in life.” “You will be home in about six weeks, it will sure be nice to see you again. All my love, Grandma.”
It took me a long time to even think of writing this post. I didn’t know where to start, whether it was appropriate, or how it would fit in to my travel blog. So here I go in attempt.
The past year has been something I’ll never forget, but with anything there comes hardships. I didn’t know when I left a year ago that that would be the last time I saw my Grandma, the last time I felt her hug, the last time I saw her smile. I didn’t know that our numerous letters, our phone calls to each other, and the postcards I sent her, were going to be the last communication we would ever have. I didn’t know when I read her last letter which told me she wasn’t feeling well, that she really wasn’t feeling well. My grandma is one to always have something wrong with her, it is why she lives in extended care after all, so yes, it was normal. I didn’t think anything of it.
It’s different for me than it was for my family, they saw her in her last weeks struggling and got to tell her their last words, for me it was a Skype conversation one day from my mom bearing the news, and a message saying she had passed away not even a full day later from my little sister. It was hard for me to fathom. It still is. I was a continent away and had little support from anyone (besides my lovely best friend) who could understand what was happening back home for me.
I tried to enjoy my last week after that, but it was constantly on my mind. I guess that whole “out of sight, out of mind” theory doesn’t always apply. But it wasn’t just that, I was surrounded by Christmas spirit, markets and gluhwein, and my family was in an air coated thick with sadness. I was in the wrong location, filled by the wrong people, to make the thoughts go through my head as they should when people pass away. I had to continue my normal life, even though my head was spinning with the facts that the first big family death was happening, and I wasn’t even able to say my good byes.
When I got back from Munich, the thoughts were filling my brain, “When are we going to see Grandma?” But the thoughts were stopped short when I realized, that wasn’t something I could say anymore. The phone calls at random hours demanding a new hoodie because the home lost hers, the days I would go over and paint her nails, the ridiculous comments she would make and take you by surprise, and then wonder why you were laughing, they weren’t ever going to happen again.
My brain couldn’t process that.
Thankfully I got that last hug, and to tell her I love her. And even though I couldn’t be there in presence, I hope I made her year a little brighter, by sending her photos of beautiful places, sending her letters filled with updates. Because that is the best you can do when you are away, the life you leave behind doesn’t stop when you leave to travel. Unfortunately, it can often speed up.
I felt like I needed to write this, maybe for closure, perhaps to show that travel isn’t always so glamorous. (cue: missing our flight in London, stolen phones, heartbreak, goodbyes, and the list goes on..) And that is often the price you have to pay for travelling. I think it makes you stronger in a way, to experience things like that alone. It’s not any easier, but stronger.
Rest in Peace Grandma, I love you.