Tuesdays with my Grandmother
What is grief, if not love persevering?
This past Tuesday was the three-year anniversary of my Grandma’s passing. Tuesdays were her day. She picked us up from school and bought us McDonald’s ice cream. In the summers we’d go swimming and she’d bring Nature Valley granola bars and cut up fruit. When I outgrew summer camp, she and I spent Tuesdays in June at the mall, having apricot tarts and lemonade at Le Pain Quotidien. I was convinced that as long as Tuesday existed, she would too.
I was sixteen when she was diagnosed with cancer and eighteen when she passed away. She was fairly young. I often feel regret thinking about the time I had with her. I wish I was more attentive, wish I helped her in the kitchen more, went shopping with her that one time when she asked. 21-year-old me would do anything to sit in a cafe with her and share a pastry. We all feel this with loss, naturally. In the past three years, in my exponential adolescent-to-adult growth, I have felt envy and frustration towards my younger self. But there’s really no reason to — I can’t feel angry with her for not growing up quick enough. I was a moody, occasionally bratty teenager, but my grandma loved me anyway. All that love will last me a lifetime. It’s nice that it’ll grow with me. I’ll return it fully, in time, somehow.
Jamie Anderson described grief as “just love with no place to go”. To me, grief is love, and it is also memory. As difficult as it is to open up and sprinkle it around us, I do think there are places where it can live. Mine lives in almond croissants, sharing them with my family. It lives in the McDonald’s drive-through, choosing a vanilla cone instead of a McFlurry. It lives in the color orange. It lives in Tuesdays, waking up with an intention to make it good. It lives in beach sunrises, in prayers in the sand. When I visit the ocean, I let the waves run through my ankles, in hopes that it’ll pass along my updated self to my grandmother, who’s likely watching the same sunrise from the other side.
Matt Haig wrote in How to Stop Time:
People you love never die…Not completely. They live in your mind, the way they always lived inside you. You keep their light alive. If you remember them well enough, they can still guide you, like the shine of long-extinguished stars could guide ships in unfamiliar waters.
On Monday night, I drove home from my best friend’s house on the dark tree-lined route I’ve always taken. She lives five minutes from the house I grew up in, my grandparents’ house, which was always more of a home to me than my own. It was sold shortly after my grandmother passed. The lights were on, and some of the backyard trees were cut so I could see the living room and kitchen as I drove past it. Nobody was inside, and the walls were bare. I kept driving, thankful for that first of few streetlights down the winding road.
My memory isn’t great. It’s become clouded over the years. I know there will come a time when I forget that house, the memories we made there, and small moments with my grandmother that my sisters remember better than I do.
But we’ll always have Tuesday.
More on Grief
What I Enjoyed This Week
Crying in H-Mart by Michelle Zauner. This is a memoir reflecting on the author’s complex and tender relationship with her Korean mother, and the reconstruction of her own cultural identity after losing her to cancer. Despite crying a dozen separate times while reading this book, I finished it in 24 hours. It is written with a simple honesty that is refreshing in its confessions of anger and jealousy and regret, but is complete with uplifting, fond anecdotes. It is largely narrated through food, with fragrant language and vivid description. As a daughter of immigrants raised in suburban America, I saw a lot of myself reflected in Michelle. It will stick with me for a long time. 5/5
“Abundance” by Amy Schmidt. This was written in memory of Mary Oliver after her passing. Through her poems, she has convinced me that we, as poets and as humans, can’t afford to be anything other than wide awake. Facing each day with an unflinching eye, willing to see everything and give thanks. I, too, hope to embody this. To notice everything, reflect on minute details, see the beauty of life in-between the lines.
Other Wonderful Things
My Astro Poets horoscope: “Week of 8/1 in Aries: Waiting is a hard thing, but maybe that’s what you will have to do for a while. Meanwhile you can dream about all of the great things. If you want to you can draw the rainbow around everything. There is sun and more sun.” I am approaching a big move come September, and the clock is ticking very slowly. This was reassuring.
My favorite drink as of late is an iced oat milk matcha latte with one pump of chai from Starbucks. One of the little joys I’ve indulged in this summer is making an excuse to run an errand and listening to a podcast while I visit the drive-thru. Then I take it home and journal.
Wishing you all the best, in whatever healing journey you’re on.