THE BLOG
02/27/2013 08:04 am ET Updated Apr 29, 2013

No More Goodbyes

This morning it is snowing.

Huge, soft flakes fill the air and cover the ground. I watch from the window while your great grandchildren happily attempt to slide down our front hill, shrieking with laughter when their makeshift sleds only serve to bring them further into the wet snow.

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A few days ago we said goodbye to you. Losing you has left me with nothing to say, Grandma. Usually I am the last to run out of words.

After your memorial service I sat in the parking lot, staring up at the building that you called home for the last five years.

I went in, tears already cascading down my cheeks as I pushed "2" on the elevator button panel and found myself standing at the entrance to your familiar room.

It hit me like a slap in the face, seeing your name gone from beside the door. My legs buckled and I sat myself right down onto that floor and cried. Oh, did I cry my heart out. A man was trying to dispense medication for someone else's grandmother and he looked over at me.

Gruffly: "You OK?"

I nodded, fresh tears disobediently coursing their way into the tracks the old tears had made. He tried to engage in conversation and I waved him away with a breathy "I'm sorry."

Before your funeral, there were things to do. It didn't feel like you were gone yet because there was something to look forward to, even if it was only a goodbye.

The absence of you feels like drowning or trying to sew without any thread.

Wrong.

You always hated "goodbye". Whenever we would leave you'd say in that high, lovely voice of yours, "Oh, do you have to go already? Why don't you stay a little while? I feel so lonesome when you leave!" and invariably, whoever was visiting you would stay for awhile longer. Still, the 'goodbye' was always inevitable.

I told you as I held your hand the day you passed that it was OK for you to die. You gripped my hand harder.

**********

As I drove away from the nursing home for the last time that day, the sign I had never before noticed brought on a fresh wave of tears.

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It wasn't until I was wiping them away at the stoplight that hope tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear,

"This isn't the end, you know."

You had to say goodbye to the love of your life, the grandfather I never met, 43 years ago. What did that feel like, missing him all of these years? How on earth did you bring yourself to be able to tell him goodbye?

Today, even though I feel so very sad, I sat with my children as they regaled me of their time out in the snow. I kissed their dewy cheeks and took a quick and imperfect photograph to help me remember their baby faces and their marvel at the snow sticking to their dollar store gloves. I will be fully aware and awake to this day and the legacy of love you left me, even though the missing you hurts so much.

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I will be the grandmother to their children that you were to me.

Behind every goodbye, even the one that death brings, there's another word that promises to fall sweet and soft on the ears, and I will say it to you again one day as surely as you said it to my grandfather:

hello.

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Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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Grandchildren