Three days ago, I was on the Cape celebrating my 25th birthday with those closest to me. My family went out to dinner to our favorite restaurant – who are we kidding, the foods not even that good. Anyways, I look around the table and see all of the same people, but it doesn’t feel the same. Sure, my dad’s still cracking crab legs for everyone, my mom’s still cracking jokes, and everyone is happy to be together. But, we’re all so different. My sister is in high school, about ready to start driving, my grandfather is half asleep (maybe not so different), and my Nana is sitting in her wheel chair.I look down at my grandmother repeatedly and she’s smiling ear-to-ear, just because I’m “home” for the day. It means the world to her. As she sits there looking so fragile and so worn, I can’t help but think about what a strong woman she was, always there to support all of us. Many of my best childhood memories are centered around her. I was the favorite and I called her my best friend (still do). I used to sleep over every Friday night and she’d cook pancakes for me in the morning. I’d see her almost every day– so active, so caring, and so full of life.Recently, life has gotten in the way and it was my first time back since right around the Holidays. I was happy to see everyone, but sad recounting old memories. It’s certainly easier (for me at least) to trudge forward, rather than to reflect back. But, what good does that do?
Here I am, just days later, back on Cape — but this time alone in a hospital waiting room. It’s 4AM and eerily quiet on the floor. My grandmother lies in the next unit, on life support, and completely sedated. There’s no telling if she’ll wake up and how she’ll be when she does. With each passing day, leading up to this most recent event, she was losing fragments of herself — physically, mentally, emotionally. The aging process is difficult for someone like me — who can’t reflect — who can’t absorb or truly understand how quickly things can change. I can, however, recognize that there are some parts of her that will always be there, that will always stay with me. Every day, sometimes 3, 4, 5 times she’ll call from her chair at home.
“Hey Honey, it’s only me; call me when you get a chance”.
Hundreds of voicemails… Always wondering how I’m doing, always from “only her” or “just Nan”. She lived her life for all of us, and that was enough for her.
As time pushes on, once more I’m forced to reflect. How can I lead a life that’s meaningful to me, yet purposeful at the same time? I can’t change what’s thrown at me and I certainly can’t slow things down. But, I can alter my approach. I can choose to reflect back, rather than to push through. I can choose to enjoy the little moments, instead of getting saddened by them. I can choose to spend time with those that matter most, because that is what matter’s most to me, deep down. I can take these lessons from my grandmother with me for the rest of my life, cherish them, and truly be the best person I can be.
Then I’ll know, like Nana, that I lived a good life.