Life confuses me- birth; death, good and evil, power and vulnerability. I know I have not been everything my grandmother wanted me to be, but I know God created her so she was everything I needed.
Most people know my grandmother as Min. Harris. I knew her as Grams, Granny Cakes, Graham Cracker, but secretly she was always in my head a super hero. She did everything- nothing short of saving the world- she was amazing.
I don’t know if many people know this but my Grandmother raised me as a child, molded me into what she thought I should be. Because of this I inherited characteristics of hers that I battle with constantly. Stubbornness, selflessness, lacks of skills communicating, yet a great sense of self and judgment- that’s Granny.
This day has been on my mind nonstop. And to be honest, this is extremely hard for me.
My grandmother had great plans for her life and she supported all the great plans and dreams that I had. She supported me in everything I did… whether it was the path she wanted for me or not.
I knew one day my grandmother would pass and I would have to deal with this day- I always hoped that it was the other way around.
I took a job this summer at a ballet school in Pennsylvania with kids. If I ever felt like I couldn’t deal with a situation or a person, I called my grandmother for help. She always guided me in the right directions and/or just listened and gave me much needed feedback and wisdom to keep me somewhat sane. This ballet intensive was long, so I always made sure I got to hear her voice. I came back after the dance intensive and told my grandmother I was going back to Pennsylvania to dance and work in the office for 2 more weeks. She said, that would be great for me, and she knows I would learn a lot.
Those few days I was back in NY she was so sick, the sickest I had seen her. She was admitted into the hospital on July 29th. I went crazy when I found out, cried in the middle of the street.
When I got in touch with my grandmother the next day she told me she would be back home soon and there was nothing to worry about. She was wrong. They kept her longer then what we anticipated. Because of this I could not kiss her goodbye before my two weeks away in PA
When I got back to New York, my aunt Kelley picked me up from 242nd St. and took me and my brother to visit my grandmother. It was really hard for me to see her in the hospital. She was so fragile. The one thing I knew I had to do was kiss her and hold her hand. People need physical contact, we all do. The fact that Grams was in the hospital and the only contact she was getting was needles to skin… I knew she needed something less abrasive.
I held her hand, rubbed her fingers, her palm, the top of her hand and arm. She needed it. And most of all, I needed it.
Her voice was so faint, but one thing she made clear was that she wanted to go home. Take that anyway you want to. I took it in so many different ways; heaven, her apt, being with family, being with me… and so many other possibilities.
Though it was hard for me to keep it together, I did, I tried to stay as strong as I could, as strong as Grandma would if she was in my chair and I was in her bed. I did a good job up until my brother grabbed her hand, kissed her forehead and said, “God please take care of my grandma, make her well, and watch over her.” I couldn’t listen to anymore, my hearing stopped and the tears poured. I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t be as strong as my Grandmother.
I kissed her about 4 times, told her I loved her, and said, “I will be back.” This was the 17th of August. She passed on the 19th. I felt like I needed to be with her that Monday. And on Tuesday, the day she passed, I was eager to see her earlier. I text’s my aunt saying, “the next time you go see grandma, please let me know, I want to come with.
All I wanted to do was stay with her. Before I found out she passes I made plans that the next week I would stay with her the whole week, just so she had someone there rooting her on, holding her hand, letting her know she is needed.
The majority of the world could never measure up to my grandmother, and I am not just saying that, trust me. She is pretty fierce. I miss her smile and her crazy laugh, her wisdom and sweet voice. I doubt that there is one person who has came across my grandmother and has not been touched in a significant way, a life changing way. She has done everything in her power to make sure myself, her family, and friends were always taken care of- she always made herself her last priority no matter what the circumstances were- even while she was sick. And through it all I know we needed her more then she needed us.
I have beat myself up every hour about how I just wanted to be with her just one more time, even during her passing. I made sure I was always there for her but that Tuesday; I felt she needed me by her side, but I wasn’t there. I couldn’t say one last time that I loved her and some how forced her to stay with us. But though I did not get to sit by her side I know my love for her was not a secret. Everyone who knows me, or who I have come across, knows how much I love and talk about my grandma.
I wish it were I instead of her (I didn't get to say this). She had so much to give the world and had so much fight in her still. As my aunt Kelley said to my brother and myself when we went to go visit her, “she is much needed.” I truly believe that, and though I selfishly want her back beside me- I know she will always be watching over everyone here as well as myself. She was truly a gift from heaven, a joyful angel that could not be stopped. I love you more then life grandma, guide us, and I am sure we will be brought together again.
So everyone, please don’t be angry, bitter, or spiteful. Don’t feel guilty! Please know that grandma is always with us, she is always with you. She has given us all the tools, the wisdom, and the love we needed- so lets not let her death be in vain, and use them- and love each other.