Being June is still new to me, and though I plan for its tone to be lighter than this, I would like these thoughts to be out there in the world. I’m not even sure why. Perhaps because, looking back now, I am reminded that nothing – be it pain or joy or life – lasts forever. I hope you’ll indulge me.
“And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears,
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.”
-After the Storm, Mumford and Sons
It wasn’t until I was grown I fully realized that those dearest in my life who came before me and helped shape me, that their own lives did not, in fact, begin with mine. My grandmother had a life before I was born. She was not willed, by me, into existence at age fifty-something for the express purpose of being my grandmother.
As a child this would have seemed laughable to me. Of course she was put here for me, to sing and brush away my fuzzy bangs with her time-worn fingers. Of course she was put here to make me french toast and slice it into perfect squares (a skill that to this day confounds me). She was put here to let me paw through her treasure trove of costume jewelry. She was put here to light up my tiny world, and to make me feel like I lit up hers, too. Why else would she be here?
It wasn’t possible that, a lifetime ago, her own mother died in childbirth. It wasn’t possible that, some years later, my grandfather – her first love – would die the year my own mother was born. It couldn’t be that pain and loss and sorrow would visit her in staccato beats for the duration of her ninety years.
But it was possible. She did not begin when I did, but long before. I see now that, throughout her years peppered with sadness and laced with contentment, a longing for her own mother and for my grandfather permeated her soul.
I’m not great at math, but I know these things alone could have added up to bitterness, perhaps even desolation. My mother and me, our lives could have been dramatically different.
But my grandmother’s formidable, God-given strength sustained her. Life had sucker-punched her heart repeatedly by the time my mother came, yet she opened that same heart and pulled my mother near, held her close (but not too close) all those years, gave her a better life, showed her better ways and love unconditional. The choices she made, despite her quiet and enduring pain…it was her Broken Road that led my mother and me to increasingly happier lives of our own.
For this I will be forever grateful.
It’s the best I can do, these words. They are not enough. I am unable to sufficiently express my love and gratitude to one of the only women to ever love me exactly the way I am.
Six months gone. Today would have been your birthday. I miss you, Mema.